Who are Intersex People? | Being.LGBT Who are Intersex People? - Being.LGBT
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Who are Intersex People?

What is Intersex?

Added to Library, on 20 August, 2015

Who are Intersex People?

Intersex people are individuals who are born with atypical sex characteristics. Intersex is an umbrella term, however: many different forms of intersex exist. Put simply, intersex people are individuals whose biological sex cannot be distinctly identified as male or female.

Biological sex is typically determined by the number and type of sex chromosomes, the type of gonads (ovaries/testicles), sex hormones, internal anatomy (e.g. uterus in females) and the external genitalia. People whose five characteristics are not typically male or female are Intersex. Some individuals are known to be Intersex at birth, however for others, it may not be determined until later in life due to further testing.

There has been significant controversy over the treatment of Intersex babies, with many Intersex individuals having had “normalisation surgery” to make an Intersex individual either male or female at birth. However, many countries are increasingly proposing and enacting legislation to make it illegal to perform such surgery, giving Intersex individuals the right to gender self-determination.

Like many other individuals, Intersex people may have a wide variety of gender identities. As a result, in line with transgender individuals, there is an increasing push for Intersex individuals to self-determine their gender identity, either as male, female or other (such as non-binary).

It is important to note that Intersex individuals differ to Transgender individuals, although there may be Intersex individuals who are transgender.

In different cultures throughout history, Intersex individuals have often been rewarded legitimate statuses in their respective societies, and may be known as having a ‘third gender’. It is important to note, too, that in other societies (such as in the West) Intersex individuals have faced extreme stigma and prejudice.

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Who are Intersex People?