Female German athlete later found out to be a male

Heinrich Ratjen (20 November 1918 – 22 April 2008), born Dora Ratjen, was a German athlete who competed for Germany in the women's high jumpat the 1936 Summer Olympics at Berlin, finishing fourth, but was later discovered to be male.

A file containing the findings of an investigation conducted in 1938 and 1939 into Ratjen's life was made public by Der Spiegel in 2009.[1]
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."[1]

In his teens, Dora began competing successfully as a girl at sports, apparently being "too embarrassed to talk about what was happening to him". In 1936, he took part in the Olympics, his teammate Gretel Bergmann stating: "I never had any suspicions, not even once.


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