Alex Blaze

How did the "Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite/has a penis" rumor start?

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 25, 2010 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: bisexual, bossip, Gawker, Google, hermaphrodite, intersex, Jamie Lee Curtis, lady gaga, lady gaga is a man, penis

Bil lady-gaga.jpgforwarded me a Gawker post with this message:

Feel like taking on Gawker for always saying Lady Gaga has a penis? I've never been sure if all that "Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite/transgender woman/intersex" is "true" or where it came from.

I won't be taking them on because it's just too stupid. The article in question doesn't refer to the possibility of Lady Gaga having a "dick," "penis," or "cock," but a "peen." What are we, 8-years-old?

They have their audience and they're not about to change. But I did wonder about where this whole rumor started, since this isn't the first time I'd seen it.

According to multiple gossip sites, the rumor started with a terrible YouTube screenshot that some people thought showed a penis between her legs, which is after the jump. Then Bossip published an unconfirmed quotation from her being all "multiple gendered" pride, which contradicts her later, confirmed quote on the subject, complaining that the patriarchy started and sustains this rumor:

About the hermaphrodite rumors, Lady Gaga told Australian radio station: "My beautiful vagina is very offended. I'm not offended; my vagina is offended."

"I'm not embarrassed. I sold four million records in six months; I'm not embarrassed about anything. I think this is society's reaction to a strong woman."

"The idea that we equate strength with men and a penis is a symbol of male strength, you know, it is what it is. But like I said," the dance-pop diva reiterated, "I am not offended at all, but my vagina might be a little bit upset."

jamie-lee-curtis.jpgMaybe that's true, although it's a pretty rare reaction to "a strong woman." People do tend to react to strong women by saying that they're "really" men (Ann Coulter, Hillary Clinton, Janet Reno) or by saying they're lesbians (Oprah, Alicia Keyes, thousands of other female stars), but I don't know of any other rumors that someone is intersex.

Other than Jamie Lee Curtis. Snopes lists that rumor, that's been around since as long as I can remember, as "undetermined" since Curtis is unwilling to comment on it. The "evidence" for her is that she adopted her children and her boyish name. She's also kinda butch for a straight woman.

Yeah. Convincing.

That's about as much evidence as there is for the Lady Gaga rumor. Here's that incriminating photo of her I mentioned before the jump:


So my theory is that Gawker just wants hits or attention out of picking on one of the biggest stars around right now. And it worked, since it's now Google's top suggested search for Lady Gaga:


Gawker's been feeding that, with post after post after post after post calling Lady Gaga a "hermaphrodite" or a "chick with a d*ck," instead of the preferred terminology, "intersex." In a complete lack of self-awareness, one Gawker writer wrote:

The Lady Gaga Penis Conspiracy is the one-armed man of pop culture, and tonight's VMAs could be its grassy knoll. This is exciting, if only because there's a substantial pop culture rumor out there that a chart-topping pop star has a cock.

Really? And just who's pushing that "substantial" rumor?

Her manager called the rumor "completely ridiculous." Lady Gaga herself said last week:

She has denied the rumours are true: 'At first it was very strange. But, in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way. I like pushing boundaries.'

She added: 'I have had sexual relationships with women. But I've only been in love with men. That was really what Poker Face was all about. Why, when I was with my boyfriend, was I fantasising about women?'

If the unconfirmed Bossip quote is true instead of just made up to get hits in the competitive gossip blog link economy, and she really is all about "multiple gendered" people living openly, then why the change?

Also, that terrible video cap would only show a penis if she weren't wearing any underwear. If she's on stage, then she probably is wearing something under there. She's not an idiot.

Which still makes me wonder how and why it started. There are plenty of blatant untruths that get spread on the internet - Obama is Kenyan, death panels are in the health care bill, etc. - and usually they participate in and form fantasies of the believers and disseminators. Is that the case here?

While the question of whether the rumor is true or not isn't all that interesting, I'm sure there are larger sociological questions to be addressed here. What does it say about our culture that we latch on to something like this? Do we need an excuse to think about sex ambiguity or is it just people hoping to find scandalous secrets in a rich and famous person's past? And why Lady Gaga specifically?

I'm sure that we have more than a few readers here willing to venture answers to the more interesting questions, but I'm already burnt out on this one. I rarely read gossip writing for a reason; the writing style gets very tiring, very quickly.

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Norm D Plume | January 25, 2010 4:46 PM

Are we not perpetuating transphobia, sexism and archaic definitions of sex when we write articles about RUMORS about a woman's genitals?

Well, I am not sure. I can see the argument that it does no good to let the rumours propagate unchallenged. But the Curtis rumour has persisted for decades.

That having been said, I have no idea how to deal with the whispered snickering of people with the intellects of 8 year olds.

I'm really getting very tired of hearing is so and so has a penis/vagina or are those man boobs or female boobs and all the rest of the crap that this blog and other blogs put out. I would think that this blog would be a little more mature about all of this. We are people, we come in different shapes, sizes and thoughts. Embrace our differences not plaster it on some bilboard for popular reading.

[rant alert]
This story, it upsets me, it offends me, it pisses me off… I don’t like people like the person who started this rumor or those that flock to it like vultures to carrion.
I’m intersexed. I’ve had to deal with those rumors. I’ve had to deal with the actions of people who think its perfectly ok for them to intrude upon my privacy just so they can ‘find out’ weather or not I’m really real, really male, really female… really a freak of nature.
Even if I say no, they don’t care. It seems to be their right to say what ever, do what ever they want to at my expense.
Just so they can feel superior to me?
Just so they can judge my gender?
Just to ‘get to the bottom of this’?
Just to ‘see the freak show’.
Just because everyone else got to see…
Go thru a adolesence where everyone wants to yank your pants down just to either laugh at you or beat the shit out of you… you’ll understand how much I loath the kind of people who start these kinds of rumors and the ones who purpetutate them.
[rant over]

Yah, what I see in the photo is a shadow. That’s all.
The guy who swears it’s a penis? He’s got penis on the brain.

Rick Elliott | January 26, 2010 1:55 AM

Anyone, including me, who is interested in the sexual apparatus of any celebrity needs to--get a life. Of all the other gut-wrenching things going on a celebrity's comings, goings, marital status, etc is wwsting one's energy and enthusiasm.

Thanks for tracking it down, Alex. That whole rumor has been bothering me for some time now since it's not meant in a celebratory manner, but as an insult.

bigolpoofter | January 26, 2010 10:16 AM

Ugh... what have we come to? People who interpret that picture as evidence of male sex organs probably do not have much experience with the diversity of labia. Besides, isn't the h-word now considered a non-PC label for an intersex person, anyway?

Donna R. Kordes | January 30, 2010 1:17 PM

Lady Gaga penis, my theory is, it was started by some straight gay hater who had to much time on their hands. Because she is so popular with the GLB&T community, I've talked to straight people who hate her because of the gay following she has. But! thats just my opinion. (I'm just sayin')

I have a few friends like this. I miss them so much.
There still my friends.

iowaheretic | January 30, 2010 3:25 PM

Lady Gaga herself is a HATER of all straight people,whether they are fans of hers or not. So any stupid rumors about her are her own fault. As far as anyone that thinks Jamie Lee Curtis is a man-is just a complete moron!

I think the origins of the rumor might have much to do with some popularized word associations.

That I'm aware of the word "Lady" has not been used before as a stage name in pop music by such a successful artist. Nor do I recognize it to be in common use as a name or title in modern American society.

In I guess what could be thought of as underground culture the name or title "Lady" has been used frequently for decades by strippers, cross-dressers, drag queens, and escorts who term themselves mistresses. That usage has created some mildly common associations for the title "Lady" with the naked body being revealed, sexuality, gender variance, and sexual dominance by a female.

Lady Gaga's actual association with GLBT meeting with homophobic hatred and it's accompanying impulse to harm and humiliate could be like the cognitive sealing of the deal on the creation of such a rumor.

Wait, did this article just try to take Gawker seriously?

Not even Gawker does that.

Lady Antebellum is a country GROUP that sings "Need you now" and other pop crossover hits. I dig them and Lady Gaga because I love the music, all the rest is trash.

As far as our beloved Jamie Lee Curtis, she's just awesome! Love her. Do I care what's between any of their legs? No. Why? Because it's not any of my business and my love of them have nothing to do with body parts, or who they sleep with. They are not sleeping with me, so it doesn't matter.

I do think some people need their meds adjusted however and that's because they are dangerous. Again, has nothing to do with their parts, their past, or who they sleep with, they are just a danger to themselves and others. 'Nough said.