Understanding Intersex

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Intersex is a gender identity in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
The term ‘intersex’, refers to someone who has both male and female sex characteristics. Some of these characteristics may include the hormones, genitalia, reproductive organs, and chromosomes. Keep in mind that being intersex isn’t a disease. It is a variation that occurs naturally in humans. 
In addition, when someone is born intersex, it may not affect their physical health while they’re still infants. However, as they grow, it may present complications and issues with fertility. 
Let’s keep understanding intersex, what it means to be intersex, and the relationship between intersex, identity, and sexuality. 

The Meaning of Intersex

Keep in mind that intersex is reference to variations in sex characteristics that do not align with the traditional binary idea of female and male sexes. Someone can be intersex in different ways and, the IHRA (Intersex Human Rights Australia) states that there are a minimum of 40 intersex variations today.  
While some intersex traits might manifest at birth, other’s will not show up until an individual gets to puberty. Some individuals may not ever realize that they are intersex. 

Identifying as Intersex 

When an infant is born, the doctor will assign them a legal sex. In many parts of the world, legal sex means one is either female or male. However, you must remember that one is responsible for how they choose to identify and a doctor’s word at your birth should not influence your gender identity. 
An intersex individual can choose to either identify as the gender they were assigned at birth or self-identify as a different gender and live according to how they feel is most appropriate to how they feel about themselves. Some intersex people can identify with multiple genders, identify as nonbinary, or no gender. 
Others may be gender-fluid and fluctuate between different genders and others will identify as other-gendered. One should have the final say as to which gender they choose to identify with. Intersex people shouldn’t feel like they have to continue living with the gender associated to the sex they were assigned at birth by their family or doctor or to the gender that society feels is more familiar based on their anatomy or their appearance.

FAQs about Intersex

Here are some commonly asked questions about the intersex community. 

Can I use the term ‘hermaphrodite’ to describe intersex?

No, it is not respectful to use the word ‘hermaphrodite’ to describe intersex people so you should never use it. Many intersex people consider the term a slur and others can others don’t mind it. Even so, it’s best to be careful and not use it unless someone indicates they’re comfortable with it.

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