He Fought the Gulf War Thinking He Was a Guy. Then He Found Out About the Ovaries


Well isn’t this poignant: Confusion about what it means to be intersexed isn’t limited to South African athletes. Meet Rudy Alaniz, a Gulf War veteran who learned through a wartime MRI that he had ovaries — and a small womb.

Interviewed for a National Geographic Channel piece airing Saturday (complete with both Brokeback and scary music!), Rudy says of the revelation: “I’m not a boy, and I’m not a girl, I’m not a man, I’m not a woman. That made me feel dead inside. … That made me feel like a freak of nature.”

Someone who ends up intersex often has an extra chromosome, leading to anything from men forming ovaries to or women forming small penises. (Don’t make us put scare quotes around “men” and “women.”) If you’re into this sort of thing, Google is you friend in finding out the graphic representations of all the things the human body is capable of that have nothing to do with “male or female?” checkboxes.

Learning you’re intersexed must be a shock to anyone. You’ve grown up believing certain things about your self, and your body, to be true. And it’s not that finding out he has girl parts means Rudy’s life has to change in any meaningful way. But it certainly creates this mindfuck: Rudy, who says he has XXY chromosomes, believes his gender was decided at birth with surgery. That’s going to be a fun conversation with mom and dad.