A 41-year-old woman who said she is the girlfriend of Olympian Michael Phelps has disclosed, in a Facebook post, that she was born intersex. The disclosure has led to confusion and misreporting online about what it means to be intersex, as well as speculation about the woman's background (on Twitter, for example) and her relationship with Phelps.
"Many of you have wondered why I was so freaked out about my relationship with Michael Phelps being exposed. ... I knew that if him and I were photographed or seen together the media would want to know who I am. That is why I kept it so guarded," Taylor Lianne Chandler wrote on Nov. 13.
Chandler continued: "I was born intersex and named David Roy Fitch at birth. By the time I could walk and talk I made it clear I was a girl and dressed as one. In my early teens I was medically diagnosed and went on testosterone blockers, at 15 estrogen enhancers."
Intersex is, according to the Intersex Society of North America, "used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types."
The socially-constructed term "reflects real biological variation," the ISNA said. And approximately "1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000" people are born intersex.
Chandler said she was born with male genitalia and a uterus, but no testicles or ovaries.
In 2008, the AJC profiled Danni Lee Harris, an Atlanta Police Department liason who had learned of her own intersex identity. (In 2010, Harris alleged that the department blackballed her following that announcement.)
"Intersex" should not be confused with people who identify as transgender, which GLAAD defines as "an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth."
And as Newsy points out, that does not mean that Chandler was technically "born male."
But some outlets have doubled down: Canadian news site Dose.ca -- in a since deleted post Thursday morning -- wrote, "[Chandler] with her 32EEE, obvious plastic surgery-free face, low key sex appeal and soft features, a man, and Phelps didn't know?!"
The piece, labeled "disgusting click-bait trash," was soon pulled.
But such claims have raised some red flags, not the least because Phelps has never confirmed their relationship or commented on this news.
Chandler's Facebook page was created less than a month ago. According to ithe page, her relationship with the swimmer was "revealed" on Sept. 30, the night he was arrested in Maryland for a second DUI.
A call to her publicist has not been returned. We'll update if it is.
Note: This headline has been edited for clarity.
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