"Every year thousands of people around the world are born with ambiguous gender. They do not fit into our binary system of male or female -- and shockingly many of them don't know it. Early surgeries transformed their bodies; families and doctors hid the truth. Now their stories are starting to be heard."
-- Sex, Lies and Gender, the National Geographic Channel, 15 September 2009
Here are a few examples of intersexual conditions:
Klinefelter Syndrome is the most common intersexual condition in men. Its official prevalence is about 1 in 500 men and is characterized by having XXY chromosomes rather than the usual XY. Two-thirds of people with the condition don't even know they have it. If there are symptoms, they're associated with low levels of testosterone resulting in infertility. Hormone injections can usually reverse the changes.
Turner Syndrome is the female version of Klinefelter Syndrome. She has only one X chromosome instead of two (indicated by X0 instead of XX). It occurs in about 1 out of 5000 females. Of those, about half go undetected until puberty, when they fail to begin menstruation. If physical signs are present, they're often related to inadequate estrogen levels and can be improved with hormonal supplementation. (About half of women with Turner Syndrome also have cardiac and other medical problems.)
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) is the most common intersexual condition in women. The underlying mutations can be found in 1 out of every 60 people in the general population. But the mutations are silent in all boys and in 299 of every 300 girls. (The mutation prevalence is 1 in 3 in certain ethnic groups.) If symptoms appear, they're the result of elevated testosterone levels: primarily clitoral enlargement, body hair, increased muscular development and menstrual problems. The amount of impact ranges from minimal to severe. The worst cases have problems with maintaining proper salt levels in the blood -- in addition to causing clitoral enlargement to produce so-called "ambiguous genitals".
During the 1960's through the 1990's, surgery was often done to "correct" the genital appearance -- sometimes without informing the family. Severe CAH is where the myth got started that all intersexuals have secret surgery. Currently, "genital correction" is discouraged, but may still take place at some locations.
A Mosaic is someone with different chromosomes in various parts of the body. For example, most of the body may be XX, while the left arm is XY. Like so many other intersexual conditions, having an XY finger or foot doesn't affect a person in the slightest. It's only detected if a biopsy is done while treating a different problem -- say, a skin growth. But the situation can drive gender theorists into a frenzy: Is a woman with a male arm Really a Woman or Really a Man?
The chromosome difference can appear anywhere: a finger, a hand, an ear, the entire left side, or whatever. Someone who is a Mosaic has notable symptoms only if the gonads are involved. For example, an XY body will have female biology if both ovaries happen to be XX. That person will have a vagina, uterus, smooth skin, breast development, etc. They will also be able to bear children. She'll learn about her XY body only if genetic testing is done for some reason.
If an individual is born with one XX ovary and one XY testicle, then the testicle wins. The ovary will atrophy and become non-functional. But the remaining testicle may not be able to produce enough testosterone, resulting in a small penis and scant body hair. ...Another example of supposedly "ambiguous genitals". Because testosterone is a stronger hormone than estrogen, no one is ever born "both male and female" -- there's no such thing as a "human hermaphrodite".
In Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), a person has XY chromosomes, testicles and testosterone, but the hormone is ineffective. As a result, her outward appearance is that of a classic female: clitoris, vagina, an hourglass figure, breast development and a lack of body hair.
5-alpha-reductase Deficiency (5-ARD) is like a mild form of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: a person with XY chromosomes & testicles is born with an otherwise female body. In this case, the problem is an inability to produce testosterone. In many instances, puberty boosts testosterone production and the body masculinizes. In other words, 5-ARD can result in a biologic female who becomes a biologic male at puberty. (Gender & Gender Identity don't change, of course.)
Cloacal Exstrophy refers to a baby born with a cavity where the genitals & rectum should be -- another instance of "ambiguous genitals". Otherwise the sexual biology is unaffected. Treatment requires immediate closure of the cavity to prevent infection of the kidneys and other internal structures. Unfortunately, during the 1960's through the 1990's, surgeons also removed all the male sexual organs and "assigned" the baby to be a girl -- another instance of secret surgery. The outcome was always catastrophic (for more details, go HERE.)
Persistant Muellerian Duct Syndrome is a mistake in early fetal development that results in a perfectly normal male who happens to have a uterus & internal vagina. The "female" internal organs are small and non-functional. Most people live an entirely normal life without even knowing the organs are there. However, if x-rays happen to be done (usually evaluating a hernia), the organs are discovered and unnecessary panic ensues.
...And there are scores of other conditions just like these.
Thomas Araguz was a volunteer firefighter for the area around Boling, Texas. On 3 July 2010, he was fighting a catastrophic fire at a poultry farm and became separated from the rest of his team. His body was found after the fire finally came under control.
Thomas left a wife, Nikki, and two children from a former marriage. At the funeral of her husband, Nikki learned that all death benefits had been denied by the Firefighters Association, that she had been removed as the beneficiary to a $600,000 insurance policy, and was refused future access to her two stepchildren. The reason she was left a widow, childless & penniless was because her birth certificate said that the person pictured above was "Really a Male".
In the rush of the delivery room when she was born, the obstetrician glanced quickly between the newborn's legs, saw a prominent clitoris, and "assigned" her to be a boy. In the light of day, it was quite apparent that she was female. She grew up and developed as a woman, although at one point medical testing was done and she was given a diagnosis of severe Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (sAIS).
The judge ruled that in the State of Texas, chromosomes (XX or XY) determine whether a person is Really Female or Really Male. No other biologic trait will be considered. Transsexuals, intersexuals (including "silent intersexuals" -- 10% of the population), and anyone above 70 years of age must therefore avoid the state like the plague.
Genitalism is the erroneous belief that sexual biology determines whether a person is Really a Man or Really a Woman It's obviously not true: A hundred people with the same biology will show up at a hundred different spots on the gender spectrum. A hundred people with similar gender profiles will have a hundred different biologies. ...Some will have different chromosomes, while others will have different hormone levels or metabolism. They'll also have different sexual orientations, attractions, fantasies, etc.
The various intersexual conditions offer undeniable proof that gender and sexual biology are independent aspects of the human experience.
Amazingly, gender "experts" arrive at the opposite conclusion: Since intersexual biology doesn't determine gender, intersexuals must be "abnormal". Since intersexual biology doesn't obey the Total Male and Total Female binary myth, intersexuals belong to a totally different sexual category: the Third Sex. Supposedly, all intersexuals of every diagnosis have "abnormal biology" which causes them to have "abnormal gender".
The false portrayal of intersexuality as "rare genderless monsters" is necessary to keep Genitalism alive.
The Gender Portal
"Really a Woman"
The National Geographic Expose at the top of the page told the story of an Iraq War veteran who served with distinction until a medical evaluation for a combat injury. X-rays discovered a uterus hiding inside his abdomen. The doctors told him that he was "Really a Woman". He received an immediate medical discharge. Soldiers certainly can't do their duty honorably with a female organ lurking inside!
Ever since, the man has had doubts about his place in society. Can he still be a husband to his wife? Or a father to his children?
Runaway Athletic Judges
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) and other athletic organizations have long worried about the possibility of a contestant in Women's Athletics not being Really a Woman. Oversight committees have gone through a variety of biologic tests to determine who's Really a Woman and who's Really a Man -- all ended with failure and bigotry, but the quest continues. Intersex athletes were under a blanket disqualification from 1936 to 2000, regardless of diagnosis.
Caster Semenya is the most recent Gold Medal recipient to be ruled Not a Woman and stripped of her trophies, but there have been many others. Go HERE for more information.
Intersex Horror Stories
Intersexuals aren't monsters, but the officials who deal with them may be.
Chimera: A more offensive name for Intersexual Mosaic
Consider the tally thus far. How well does the myth hold up?
Of the 8 conditions listed, only Cloacal Exstrophy and the most severely affected individuals with 4 other conditions have the notorious "ambiguous genitals".
Only those with "ambiguous genitals" would be theoretically candidates for genital surgery, including "secret surgery". ...A tiny minority.
Nowhere to be seen.
In every condition except Cloacal Exstrophy, the majority of people with the given condition go undetected.
I saw on TV that intersexuality is a vast conspiracy. Advocacy groups claim that evil doctors perform secret surgery on helpless newborns, turning them into monsters -- that is, so-called "hermaphrodites" and people with "ambiguous genitals". Robbed of their gender, the victims wander aimlessly in a life without meaning....
Is it really shocking to be a gender non-conformist and not to know it? ...And who's suffering? The individual or the Binary Gender Police?
These amazing claims may be amusing on TV, but it's disturbing to hear the same tales from a Professor of Pediatrics on the staff at the highly respected University of Colorado Medical Center. Professionals should know better.
The New Gender Paradigm
This is a very brief overview of a large & complex subject. For more information, refer to the chapter on Intersexuality in Volume 2 of the New Gender Paradigm. Good information can also be obtained from support organizations for each specific condition. However, there's a lot of misinformation and hysteria on the internet, even from reputable medical organizations who should know better.
Stay away from any site that contains the word "hermaphrodite".
Not a Conspiracy
We can all heave a sigh of relief: the rumors are false. There's no conspiracy. There are no intersexual monsters. And they weren't created by mad scientists. Intersexuality is quite different from what you see in the grocery store tabloids.
To begin, consider the official definition:
Intersexuality is a long list of medical conditions that involve some aspect of sexual biologyor physiology. Some conditions involve chromosomes, some involve hormones, while others are structural differences that don't result from genetic mutations or identified cellular malfunction.
Intersexual conditions share nothing in common -- they have different causes, produce different symptoms, and each has a unique treatment. In fact, the term has become obsolete. Many recently identified conditions have NOT been added to the list, even though they certainly involve sexual biology. For example, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of infertility, abdominal pain and other problems because of overproduction of testosterone by the ovaries -- definitely sexual biology, yet no one considers it to be "intersexual".
VARIABLE SEVERITY: Each condition differs in severity from individual to individual. One person might experience significant changes in their sexual biology, while a sibling with exactly the same genetic mutation would have no symptoms at all. For example, Klinefelter Syndrome is the most common intersex condition in men. It's a chromosomal variation with XXY instead of XY. Some individuals with the Syndrome are infertile, develop breasts, have wide hips and have minimal face & body hair. But over two-thirds of people with XXY chromosomes don't even know they have them.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In spite of being relatively common, Klinefelter Syndrome never causes "hermaphrodites" or "ambiguous genitals". No one did surgery at birth. No mad scientist zapped that extra chromosome into the cells.
INVISIBLE: If two-thirds of Klinefelter Cases are discovered "by mistake" -- while doing blood tests for other problems -- how many men live their entire lives without detection? (Ie, they don't happen to have any blood tests done.) These are the most important concepts to learn about intersexuality:
-- Most intersexuals live happy, fulfilling lives without any inkling that they have a biologic difference lurking inside.
-- Likewise, ANYONE -- parent, spouse, child, even yourself -- may have one of these biologic differences lurking inside.
COMMON: The third essential Truth about intersexuality is that it's common. When an "expert" reports that intersexuality is rare, they're referring to the severe cases. With the arrival of quick and inexpensive genetic analysis, more and more "silent" cases are being discovered. If one includes the invisible cases, as much as 10% of the population is carrying some significant difference in sexual biology. (See chromosomes for further discussion.)
Intersexuals are everywhere. And they aren't genderless monsters. They look like anyone else. They're blessed with gifts & strengths, like everyone else. Like everyone else, they face challenges that must be overcome. The vast majority of intersexuals share the same gender spectrum as everyone else. (For exceptions, see below.)
Intersexuality proves that sexual biology can't be used to determine a person's gender.
Gender arises in intersexuals in exactly the same way as in everyone else: the brain commits to Female, Male or Intermediate between days 28 and 56 post fertilization. Gender determination in the brain occurs independently from sexual determination in the body -- which is why brain gender is usually not affected by biologic differences that show up later. In other words...
Most intersexuals have a normal gender
-- that is, their gender distribution matches the gender spectrum seen in mainstream society.
However, there are several conditions that DO impact the gender spectrum:
-- Every person with severe Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (sAIS) has a distinctly FEMALE Gender & Gender Identity, in spite of having XY chromosomes, testicles and testosterone.
-- Every XY person with severe 5-Alpha Reductase Deficiency has a FEMALE or ANDROGYNOUS Gender, but a MALE Gender Identity.
-- All XX people with moderate-to-severe Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) have predominantly MALE Gender traits (ie, they're "butch"). One-third of those with severe CAH also have a MALE Gender Identity.
The fact that the vast majority of intersexual conditions do not affect Gender is evidence that most biologic factors -- chromosomes, gonads or genitals -- don't play any part in Gender development. On the other hand, all three of the conditions that do impact Gender involve changes in testosterone metabolism early in fetal development. (See CAUSES.)
© Cassandra Branch MD
Ten of these people are intersexual.
Can you pick out which ones?
The New Gender Paradigm