I came across an interesting story the other day and I did some research of a person who might be a trans woman or an intersex woman but the truth is lost in history. This is a story about a German athlete who was in the 1936 Olympics, Dora Ratjen.
The Jewish jumper and the male impostorHis story was…
9 September 2009
A new film tells the remarkable story of a female Jewish high jumper banned by the Nazis from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin - and whose team mate, it later turned out, was a man in disguise.
Berlin 36, due out this week, recounts how Gretel Bergmann was tipped for Olympic glory but was bumped off the German team at the last minute for fear that a gold-medal winning Jewish athlete would embarrass Hitler.
Instead, her "weird" room-mate Dora Ratjen competed. Dora gained only fourth place, but caused controversy two years later when a doctor discovered "she" was actually a he.
Her story is remarkable.
Mrs Lambert says she never suspected her team-mate Dora Ratjen was not who she appeared to be.
"She was part of the Olympic team. We all trained together and she was my roommate," she remembered.
"She never came in the shower with us, so we thought she was a little weird, but I had absolutely no idea she was actually a man."
Dora Ratjen - whose real name was Horst Ratjen - continued to compete in the high jump for another two years.
Ratjen set a new world high jump record for women in 1938 but was disqualified after a doctor discovered he had strapped up his genitals
Horst Ratjen himself said he was forced into it by the Nazis "for the sake of the honour and glory of Germany".And she was “outed” on a train to Cologne. The website Rare Historic Photos picks up the story from there.
"For three years I lived the life of a girl. It was most dull," he is reported as saying in 1957.
Born a male but raised as a female, Ratjen competed on the female German track team. He set a world record for the high jump at the 1938 European Athletics Championships, but competed as a female at that event. His true identity was discovered while riding on a train headed for Cologne.But a doctor later examined “him” and said,
Ratjen was born in Erichshof, near Bremen, into a family described as “simple folk”. The father, Heinrich Ratjen, stated in 1938: “When the child was born the midwife called over to me, ‘Heini, it’s a boy!’ But five minutes later she said to me, ‘It is a girl, after all.'” Nine months later, when the child, who had been christened Dora, was ill, a doctor examined the child’s genitalia and, according to Heinrich, said “Let it be. You can’t do anything about it anyway.” Dora stated, also in 1938: “My parents brought me up as a girl [and] I therefore wore girl’s clothes all my childhood. But from the age of 10 or 11 I started to realize I wasn’t female, but male. However I never asked my parents why I had to wear women’s clothes even though I was male.”
On her last trip as a woman, Dora Ratjen wore a gray two-piece, skin-colored tights, and light-colored ladies shoes. On September 21, 1938 she took an express train from Vienna to Cologne. At the European Athletics Championships in the Austrian capital a few days earlier, she had won gold for the German Reich, clearing the high-jump bar at 1.70 meters, a new world record.
A physician was summoned and after an examination pronounced Ratjen to be male. However, the physician described the genitalia as having a “coarse scarred stripe from the tip of the penis to the rear”, and stated his opinion that with this organ sexual intercourse would be impossible. This seems to describe an appearance similar to the result of a mika operation by Australian aboriginals in which the male urethra is slit open along the penis. After birth a high degree of hypospadias on a micro-penis, plus cryptorchidism, may give a midwife the impression of a vulva with a long clitoris – and the error may continue for many years, especially if the intersexual escapes expert medical examination.We will never know, the facts have been lost to history but one thing is for certain is that nature does not like binaries and nature loves to examine all possible combinations.