Intersex is an umbrella term that refers to the inherent physical differences in gender characteristics or reproductive anatomy. It also means the living experience of the socio-cultural consequences of people born with bodies that do not fall under the regulations of the “male” and “female” bodies… Here are 5 myths we need to bring down.
What is Intersex?
Intersex refers to a variety of conditions wherein a person’s reproductive or sexual anatomy doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. An intersex person might be born with chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs that aren’t exclusively male or female.
Common Intersex Variations
- Klinefelter Syndrome: Individuals have an additional X chromosome (XXY). Males with this condition may have smaller testes, reduced testosterone, and may be taller.
- Turner Syndrome: Females have a single X chromosome. They might have developmental issues like a shorter stature and underdeveloped ovaries.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH): A genetic disorder affecting the adrenal glands, leading to higher-than-normal male hormones. This might result in female bodies with typically male external genitalia or vice versa.
- Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS): The body is resistant to male hormones (androgens), resulting in a person with XY chromosomes having typically female or ambiguous genitalia.
5 Myths about intersex people
Myth 1: All people are born male or female
There are many people around the world who have sexual characteristics that do not belong to the typical binary sex.
Myth 2: Being intersex is very rare.
About 1.7% of the population is born with intersex characteristics – comparable to the number of people born with red hair.
Myth 3: Being intersex is a situation that needs to be corrected
Intersex children undergo surgery in an attempt to “normalize” them – although these interventions are often invasive and irreversible.
Myth 4: Intersex people are trans
Our physical sexual characteristics have nothing to do with how we view our gender identity or who we are attracted to.
Myth 5: No one talks about intersex people
There are still misconceptions about the concept of intersex, but now many activists around the world are fighting to raise awareness and protect human rights.
Historically, many intersex infants and children were subjected to surgeries to make their bodies fit a more “typical” male or female category. These surgeries, often performed without the individual’s consent, have led to physical, psychological, and emotional trauma.
Furthermore, societal stigma has often forced intersex individuals into secrecy or isolation, denying them the right to openly embrace their true selves.
Intersex activists and organizations worldwide are fighting for rights, including:
- Bodily Autonomy: The right to decide about surgeries and medical interventions.
- Legal Recognition: The option for other gender markers on identification documents beyond just ‘male’ or ‘female’.
- Awareness and Education: Eliminating the stigma by promoting understanding in schools, medical communities, and society at large.