All you need to know about intersex

What is intersex?

We all know by now that gender is a spectrum, and nothing about it is binary or black and white. What some people don't yet know is that the same is true of so-called "biological sex". Estimates vary, but scientists think that as many as one in fifty births could be of people classed as 'intersex': of indeterminate sex in some way or another. Traditionally, if this manifests itself in a baby's genital configuration (it doesn't always; some intersex people have ambiguous hormones and/or chromosomes without visibly unusual genitals), so-called "corrective" surgery is performed right away so that the baby can be (often arbitrarily) assigned a gender. People struggle to wrap their heads around the idea that a human might genuinely not "really" be either binary sex, but increasingly the intersex community is campaigning for an end to these surgeries and assignations to give them a chance to make their own choices.

What is Intersex?

It is a generalised term used for a collection of conditions where a person’s reproductive and/or sexual anatomy doesn’t fit the typical binary definition of male and female.

What does it mean to be intersex?

It can mean very many different things. It may mean that the person’s genitals are a mix of male and female, for example a person may not have a vaginal opening or a scrotum that is split like labia or it might not be something you can visually see. It may be that the outer sexual organs present as one sex and the internal are another. It can be discovered at birth or not until puberty and some people go their whole life without knowing. Intersex is simply the middle part of the spectrum between male and female.

Do intersex people have both genitals?

No, they may have male genitals or female genitals or a mix of the two. They could have internal sexual/’reproductive organs that are different from their genitals or even have hormonal differences. It is many different things and can be seen differently by different people.

What are intersex rights?

Sometimes children are given surgeries/procedures/medication to change their sex to either male or female. It is increasingly being seen as a violation of their rights to be exactly who they are. Often intersex people are perfectly healthy. Intersex rights give them the freedom to be themselves without the expectation to conform to being male or female.

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