Dora Ratjen

Dora Ratjen

A German Olympic Athlete, Who Was Arrested At A Train Station On Suspicion Of Being A Man In A Dress, 1938

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.

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.”

From: Anything Goes.

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