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What is an intersex person?
22 Feb 2022
What is an intersex person? image

We have studied in biology classes about human sex and we learned there are only two kinds of sex, simply male or female. In fact, sex is like a spectrum of rainbow colors with the great majority of people appearing to exist at one extreme to the other.

So intersex refers to a group of circumstances in which a person is born with biological or sexual anatomy that does not appear to fit the “traditional criteria” of female or male. For example, a person may be born with the appearance of a girl on the exterior but predominantly male-typical anatomy on the inside. But sometimes, a person may be born with genitals that appear to be intermediate between male and female forms.

Therefore intersex people are not uncommon, yet they have sometimes misunderstood as much as 1.7% percent of newborns are not what is commonly referred to as a boy or a girl.

What does intersex really mean?

The term intersex is a term constructed by society, same as the terms male and female. The function of these terms is to distinguish between people. But sometimes things get too far that such people get sidelined and discriminated against from the mainstream of society only because of their gender identity or sexual orientations.

How hard things can be when the first question even parents ask when babies are born is, “ Is it a boy or a girl?. It is unrightful for the world to think that everyone’s genetic characteristics should fit neatly into one or two categories intact.

What percent of the world is intersex?

It is a myth that being born intersex is very rare because according to the experts 1.7% of the world’s population is born with the so-called intersex traits. 

Always remember that people have genitalia that is different from the norms for boys and girls so people have feminized bodies but XY (male) chromosomes, or masculine bodies but XX (female) chromosomes.

What is intersex called now?

Intersex individuals were classified as having “female pseudohermaphroditism”, or “male pseudohermaphroditism”. But now these terminologies are no longer familiar. The word “hermaphrodite” regarding people is misleading, stigmatizing, and scientifically misleading.

Anti-discrimination and equal treatment

People born with intersex bodies are unique. But intersex newborns, children, adolescents, and adults are often stigmatized and exposed to many human rights breaches.

Including discrimination in healthcare, school, work, government services, and sports. Several countries like South Africa, Australia, and Malta, have specifically protected intersex persons from discrimination.

Medical interventions

Intersex medical interventions, often known as intersex genital mutilations (IGM) are generally classified into three,

  • Surgical
  • Hormonal 
  • Other medical interventions

So these medical procedures change atypical and other sex traits. They make a person’s appearance more normal and lower the likelihood of future issues.

The timing, evidence, necessity, and reasons for procedures in infancy, adolescence, or adulthood are controversial. The topic has been a question of consent several times. The main reasons for such controversies are due to concerns that surgery can affect.

  • Sexual function 
  • Sexual sensation
  • Lifelong health issues
  • Irreversible nature of surgeries

Genital reconstructive surgeries are medical interventions usually for intersex people. Few known purposes for such surgeries are:

  1. Improve the fertility potential
  2. To reduce risk of cancer
  3. Menstruation regulation
  4. Prevent obstruction and urinary infection
  5. To close open wounds 
  6. To improve excretory control

Bottom line

Remember being intersexual is never something ghostly or extraterrestrial and it is very common. There are many people in the world sharing emotions the same as yours or the intersex people you know.

If you get a feeling of loneliness, get in touch with some such communities, share your feelings and open up your mind. Also if there are any physical issues regarding the conditions always feel free to seek medical support.

For more help and support, contact us on 1800 889 2559.

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