Let’s get straight to it and look at the intersex meaning and definition. In our effort to open up all subjects, all topics, all taboos and remove the stigmas often created by confusion, let’s chat openly and honestly and respectfully.
Here’s a few facts which we hope will inform you and educate you.
What is Intersex?
Intersex is a general term for a person born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (@stripperwriter).
This can be related to hormones, chromosomes or organs.
A person can be born appearing to be female on the outside but have anatomy typical of males on the inside.
A person can be born with genitals that appear to be in-between the usual male and female types.
A person can be born with a large clitoris, or with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like a labia.
A person can be born with ‘mosaic genetics’: some of their cells have KK chromosomes and some of them have XY.
A person may not discover an intersex anatomy until puberty or infertility.
A person may die with an intersex anatomy and never know it.
Intersex is the current and updated term used by the community in place of hermaphrodite.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people are intersex, but estimates suggest that about 1-2 in 100 people born in the U.S. are intersex.
Being intersex has nothing to do with transgender. Our physical characteristics have nothing to do with how we consider our gender identity, or who we’re attracted to.
The word ‘transgender’ is a term for people who gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. The word ‘intersex’ relates to pysical sexual characteristics and an internal sense of identity.
An intersex person may also identify as trans.
According to experts, around 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits – comparable to the number of people born with red hair.
28% of intersex people experienced receiving offensive or threatening emails or text messages six or more times in the last 12 months before being surveyed due to being LGBTI.
39% of the above were between the ages of 15-17 years old.
At least 25 UN member states allow for legal gender recognition without prohibitive requirements (@ilgaeurope).
A leaked memo from the Trump administration suggested the U.S. government is working towards new definitions of sex and gender, divinding them into ‘unchangeable’ categories of male and female. This would completely deny the existence of transgender and intersex people (Amnesty International).
Who are Intersex People
Let’s talk about one of the most widely recognised intersex people, Caster Semenya.
Caster is a South African 800m Olympic runner. In 2009 Caster was subjected to what she believed was a doping test. It turned out to be a gender test. The results were not made public but it’s commonly believed Caster is intersex. With an X and a Y chromosome, Caster would be genetically classified as a male. Caster identifies and has been raised as a female and races as a female.
Debate rages on as to whether she should be allowed to race as a female given the substantially higher levels of testosterone she produces. A recent ruling dictated that athletes, like Caster, must lower their testosterone levels to the median level of other ‘women’.
Our thoughts? Confusions between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’? Surely other athletes have other ‘natural advantages’? Were other cis women athletes tested or did they test cis women non athletes and compare Caster against those figures? Shouldn’t intersex be represented in the sports world? Caster identifies as a woman, let her compete as a woman. Michael Phelps, one of the world’s greatest and most decorated swimmers produces lower levels of lactic acid and is praised for it. We say no more!
What is Intersex Education
If this has pipped your interest and you want to expand your knowledge further here’s a few interesting reads.
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences
Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin
None of the Above – I.W.Gregorio
As ever, KK welcomes everyone. Whoever you identify as, stand tall, stand proud, stand beautiful. Don’t be afraid to speak out on our platform, our community loves you for you, not your chromosomes.
I am Georgie, Director of customer Services at Killing Kittens, first point of contact for our 100,000 members, problem solver, occasional writer of bits and bobs. Lover of wellington boots, mummy to 2 amazing little people.