Intersex is a term for those born with physical sex characteristics that cannot be traditionally classified as male or female. Intersex does not describe a specific body type but rather is an umbrella term for a broad range of conditions. For instance, variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, hormones, genitalia, or internal sex organs (testes, ovaries, or even ovotestes), secondary sex characteristics or some combination of these. An intersex person may have characteristics of both the male and female sexes, characteristics that fall somewhere in between male or female, or characteristics that don't fall into either. Intersexuality is observed in many animals including humans. According to the ISNA it is estimated that as many as 1.7% of people are born with intersex traits.
Intersex is not an identity, but is something one is born as, in the same way that one does not actively identify as AMAB or AFAB, they are simply born that way. Some intersex traits are identified at birth, while others may not be discovered until puberty or later in life (although, the variation was always present, just unnoticed).
Intersex individuals may identify with any gender identity, including male, female, and non-binary. Each intersex person has a unique relationship to their gender and how that relates to their experience being intersex. They may identify as cisgender or transgender, or possibly another gender modality like ipsogender or ultergender.
Issues & Activism[edit | edit source]
Some issues faced by intersex people include:
- Nonconsensual surgery on intersex infants and children.
- Discrimination in sport.
- Discrimination in employment and the workplace.
Intersex activists address issues like these and more. In 1993, Cheryl Chase announced the founding of the Intersex Society of North America, initially a support group that developed into an advocacy group on intersex issues. Since then, other organizations have been founded such as InterACT, OII Europe, and IC4E.
Intersex Spectrum[edit | edit source]
Chromosomal Variations[edit | edit source]
- Klinefelter Syndrome
- Triple X Syndrome
- Turner Syndrome
- XXYY Syndrome
- XYY Syndrome
- 45,X/46,XY Mosaicism
Hormonal Variations[edit | edit source]
- Androgen insensitivity syndrome
- Estrogen insensitivity syndrome
Gonadal Variations[edit | edit source]
Flags[edit | edit source]
The most commonly used intersex flag was created by Morgan Carpenter in 2013. Yellow and purple were chosen for the design, as alternatives to the strongly-gendered colors of blue and pink. The purple circle in the middle symbolizes "wholeness and completeness" as well as "the right to be who and how we want to be."
An alternate flag design was also made by Natalie Phox in 2009, though is flag is less commonly used. It was originally introduced as a bigender, but Phox later claimed that it was an intersex flag which caused confusion around the intention of the flag.
Resources[edit | edit source]
- InterACT: Intersex Definitions
- InterACT: Intersex 101 [pdf]
- IC4E: What Is Intersex?
- OII Europe: Intersex Issues - a short list
- InterACT: Ethics of Surgery and Decision Making
- InterACT: Discrimination in Sports
- InterACT: Workplace Discrimination and Intersex Employees
- What's the history behind the intersex rights movement?
- Intersex Human Rights Australia: An Intersex Flag
- Bigender flag