What is Intersex?
Intersex is the medical term for a wide range of conditions, some genetic in nature, others caused by other factors. All have in common that the person with the condition would not be strictly defined as being biologically male or female.
Some of the more common or well-known intersex conditions include:
- Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) - Caused by a partial or complete defect in the testosterone receptors. Complete AIS (CAIS) has the phenotype of a woman, but is infertile and XY (male) chromosomes. There are gradations of AIS which feature increasingly more male phenotypes.
- XXY chromosomes - A wrong division before fertilization caused three sex chromosomes to end up in each cell, resulting in a mixture of male and female development. The resulting individual usually has a more masculine appearance, but can have female genitals.
- XX/XY chimera (mosaic) - Two embryos, one with XX the other with XY chromosomes, merged during pregnancy and both affected the development of the child. The result is generally a hermaphrodite, though very few of such pregnancies are carried to term. It's one of the rarest forms of intersex. It's also what I have.
There are many more forms of intersex, but this is a quick introduction to the subject. For a complete list see the Wikipedia entry on intersex. The occurrence of intersex conditions is somewhere around 1 in every 500 children up to 1 in every 25 as more recently suggested.
Intersex isn't acknowledged by many countries and medical systems. A common term used for it is Disorder of Sexual Development, essentially terming it a birth defect and requiring surgery. This leads to genital surgery being performed with or without the parents's knowledge and consent on infants. Many so-called transsexual individuals are actually these infants later in life as the damage of the wrong choice becomes apparent. It is generally recommended by those with the proper knowledge to let the child make his or her own choice before puberty and only perform medically required surgeries.
You can sign the petition to stop this forced surgery on infants by signing this petition at Change.org.