It is a telling commentary on the skewed importance we give any matter relating to sexuality that this rumor exists at all.Numerous children come into the world less than perfectly formed, yet no stigma is attached to those who require surgery to repair a malfunctioning heart, a disorder of the digestive system, or almost any other condition unrelated to gender.Tony was born with healthy testes, as well as a vagina, and doctors decided it made more sense for Tony to live life as a woman – called Antoinette.But Tony – who was born intersex – never felt comfortable being a woman, or a man for that matter.In their day, Curtis and Leigh were one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming couples, two successful, ambitious, famous people who appeared to have it all, with that ‘all’ including a happy marriage and two fine children.(As is often the case, appearances were deceiving: Curtis and Leigh divorced in 1962 after eleven years of marriage, and there were more difficult times ahead for both of them.) It’s thus possible that the current rumor about Jamie Lee stems from an ancient backlash against her parents, long-ago envy expressed as a slander about what the union of two “perfect” people had produced.Though an appearance of sexual normalcy can be constructed, fully functional reproductive organs cannot. (Many technical names have been assigned to describe sexual ambiguity, including testicular feminization, transgendered, and androgen insensitivity syndrome.
This has been told to me by people who have worked on films with Jamie and by one physician who claims to have seen the records at Cedars Sinai, which leads me to believe, after the whole Richard Gere affair, that Cedars must have a “coffee table” filing system that invites browsing. No one but bound by laws regarding doctor-patient confidentiality.
What to make of the child of two successful and famous actors who grows up to achieve an equal measure of fame in the same field? According to an oft-repeated whisper, Jamie Lee Curtis acknowledged that she was born an intersexual (the preferred medical term for persons of ambiguous gender, replacing ‘hermaphrodite’). This rumor is often lent credibility by people who have heard it repeated as fact by their university professors (especially those with specialties relating to intersexuality). Jamie Lee is the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
What if this gal has a boyish-sounding name and adopts children rather than bears her own? Neither the hearer nor the teller ever seems to be able to provide a credible explanation of he knows this piece of information to be true, the chain of transmission always tracing back to the notoriously unreliable “Someone else told me about it.” As happens over and over, even the most trusted of sources can sometimes take a widespread rumor at face value, then parrot it as fact. At the time of Jamie Lee’s arrival into this world, her father was a roguishly good-looking leading man, an actor female moviegoers couldn’t help but swoon over. Their union produced two daughters, Kelly Lee in 1956 and Jamie Lee in 1958.
Yet when the question of sexuality is raised, it’s all whispers behind hands and meaningful looks.
When Tony Briffa was seven years old doctors in Australia made a choice that was never theirs to make – castration.