What is intersex? Learn all about this concept

Sexuality is as diverse as humanity itself, and sometimes we can confuse some terms due to ignorance. That is why in this post we invite you to know in a precise and respectful way what is intersex.

What is intersex?

Intersexuality is when there is a discrepancy between the internal and external genitalia.

Intersex refers to people who are born with sexual or reproductive organs other than the traditionally considered, male or female. It is a bodily variation of humans, but it is not a medical problem or pathology.

Scientifically intersex can be classified into 4 categories:

XX intersex or female pseudohermaphroditism

In this case the person has genetically the chromosomes of a woman (XX) and has ovaries. But the external genitalia have a masculine appearance.

The labia majora merge and the clitoris enlarges to appear like a penis. These people usually have a uterus and fallopian tubes.

Among the causes of this type of intersex can be found:

  • The fetus was exposed to an excess of male hormones in the gestation stage
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (most common cause)
  • The mother has a tumor that causes her to produce male hormones (usually ovarian tumors)

XY Intersexuality or Male Hermaphroditism

This case is the opposite of the previous one. The person has male (XY) chromosomes, but the external genitalia are not fully formed or are obviously female.

This XY intersex has its explanation because the male genitalia need, for their formation, an adequate balance between female and male hormones.

Among the causes that can alter this balance are:

  • Testicular feminization. In this case the hormones are balanced, however the male hormone receptors do not work properly.
  • Testicular problems that cause undervirilization.
  • Problems with the formation of testosterone. To generate testosterone, the body follows a series of steps, each requiring a different enzyme. A deficiency in any of these enzymes causes an irregularity in testosterone.

True gonadal intersex

Those who classify within this intersex have ovarian and testicular tissue alike. They may have an ovary under the testicle or suffer from ovotestis (they have both tissues in the same gonad).

The appearance of the genitals can be ambiguous or with marked feminine or masculine characteristics.

The main causes of true hermaphroditism (as it is also known) are still confusing to scientists. Although different members of the scientific and medical community have some theories such as:

  • Ovular division followed by fertilization of each ovule and fusion early in the development of the two zygotes.
  • The fusion of two fertilized eggs.
  • SRY gene mutation.

Gonadal Dysgenesis or Complex Intersexuality

Complex intersex is characterized by having chromosome combinations different from normal combinations (XX or XY).

Chromosome combinations can be simple (XO, just one X chromosome). This affectation only occurs in women and it is not preventable because it is generated at the time of conception.

It is the only monosomy (absence of chromosome) viable in humans because the absence of any other chromosome is fatal.

The lack of the Y chromosome determines that the sex is female and the lack of another X chromosome causes the absence of some sexual characteristics. This generates permanent infertility in those who suffer from this condition.

Also, those with gonadal dysgenesis may have extra chromosomes (XXX or XXY).

It is based on a genetic alteration caused by the incorrect separation of chromosomes.

In the cases of complex intersex There is usually no discrepancy between the external and internal genital organs, or they are both male or both female. But they can cause hormonal and sexual development problems.

Intersex people and sexual preferences

How you will have learned intersex it is not a sexual preference or gender identity, is a physiological characteristic.

An intersex person can identify as a man, a woman or a non-binary person in the same way that a person without this condition can. They can also choose the sexual orientation they want.

The makeup of your sexual organs has nothing to do with your sexual identity or preference.

Due to the prejudices of society, they can be subjected at an early age to surgical procedures and hormonal treatments. Actions that can cause irreversible damage and consequences such as chronic pain or loss of sexual pleasure.

All of this is completely unnecessary in most cases and is only for the sole purpose of fitting you into the traditional stereotype of a man or a woman.

That is why it is recommended that intersex bodies should not be intervened without the free and informed consent of the people. It does not matter if you are still a child or a teenager.

Intersex people’s bodies are perfect as they are.

In this sense, the country of Malta moved by passing a Law on Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Characteristics. This law introduces restrictions on sex assignment treatment of minors until they have the capacity to consent to it.

One of the best known cases, possibly the most mediatic, of an intersex person has been that of the athlete Caster Semenya, who was excluded from different athletic events, due to the high levels of testosterone that she naturally generates due to her intersexuality.

You can now answer: What is intersex?

As we have explained in the article, being intersex is NOT a medical problem, disease or pathology. It is a variation of the bodies of human beings.

We have detailed the types of intersex that exist and the characteristics of each of them. The bias and prejudice to which intersex people are subjected, mainly due to lack of information, has also become clear.

That is why talking to these people and getting informed are means to eliminate the ignorance and discrimination that they may suffer.

Now that you know what it is to be intersex and you are better informed on the subject, I invite you to share with your friends so that they too can be informed.

It would also be good for you to express in the comments if you know someone intersex and if you are, tell us how your personal experiences have been.

We would love to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this incredible material

What is intersex? Learn all about this concept


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