ARE INTERSEX PEOPLE MALE OR FEMALE?
Nowadays there are so many different terms and issues surrounding sexual identity, gender and orientation. It can get confusing, and a common question asked is “are intersex people male or female?”
It’s a great question, and many people throw the word around without fully understanding it. The truth is that the male and female archetypes are the furthest ends of the sex characteristics spectrum. This is where the term “intersex” comes in, as it is somewhere on this scale.
Time have recently written an article on a new documentary. “No Box For Me” is an exploration of how intersex people are categorized and considered to have disorders. Read more about it here.
What Characteristics are There?
The range is very wide including chromosome patterns that do not match the typical characteristics. There can be sex characteristics within the body, and also visible genital differences too. This can place them more between male and female than a typical man or woman. As an intersex person matures there sexuality and bodily differences can manifest in different ways. This is why it is so important to let intersex people make there own decisions on there bodily autonomy.
“Sometimes these differing characteristics may not be apparent at birth, and other variations may not be apparent until puberty, or at all.” – Time
Why Don’t They Choose the Sex That They Resemble Most?
Some do, and some don’t. The intersex community is versatile and varied with some people living as men, some as women. Some are more flexible and in between proudly identifying as intersex or changing between the two sexes.
Readers should check Hida Viloria’s website as a prime example of an intersex person enjoying the middle ground between the two poles. S/he has the flexibility to switch depending on mood, and has been featured on Operah. Also, “What is Intersex: A Personal Explainer” is a video by filmmaker River Gallo. River is a strong voice in the intersex scene and has recently finished a film produced by Stephen Fry.
The Importance of Consent
It really is a choice based on their wishes. The biggest issue they have faced is other people making these critical decisions for them. Until recently doctors and parents were encouraged to operate early in life to make them conform to one gender. This behaviour is under evermore criticism each passing year by members of the intersex community and human rights groups due to lack of consent and free choice. The act of surgical alteration also opens the possibility of getting it wrong. A surgical alteration will not affect the internal hormones and tendencies. Often the people who were operated on were often not informed that anything had happened to them as there parents went silent regarding this “taboo subject”.
“It’s like a kind of mutilation. It takes a lot of time for people to build a life and an identity. It takes a lot of time to understand that it’s unfair to change the body, because society decides that the body of intersex people is not like other people.” – Floriane Devigne
Are intersex people male or female? They are either, neither, both and none. The very question is loaded because it forces us into an A) or B) scenario, and that is not how intersex works.
What are Intersex People Saying?
The intersex community are slowly being recognised, however the frustration that comes with having intersex labelled a “disorder” can be offensive and add to the difficulties that come with being born this way.
Bureaucratic systems also have the habit of categorizing people into one gender or the other. This is wholly inappropriate for many in the intersex community who do not feel strongly identified with one over the other.
If you have read this far, then we wholeheartedly encourage you to watch this Ted Talk by Anunnaki Ray Marquez, a male mother “seahorse”. Born with indeterminate sex characteristics, he was not operated on and has given birth to 2 children.