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Intersex

Did you know that some people are born with both male and female genitals? This is called intersex or DSD (differences in sexual development).

What is an intersex person?

Intersex people are born with both male and female sex characteristics. Someone perhaps has an underdeveloped penis and a vaginal opening or uterus. Or someone has a vulva and a large clitoris which looks like a penis. Other intersex people do have the fully-developed sex characteristics of 1 sex but a mix of female and male hormones, chromosomes or genes.

Having an intersex body does not cause pain. It’s not unhealthy, or something that needs to be fixed.  

Boy, girl, gay, straight?

You can’t always tell whether an intersex baby is a boy or a girl. In the past, the parents decided at birth whether it was going to be a daughter or a son. Operations gave intersex babies a full vagina or penis. These days people often wait until an intersex child is old enough to decide what they want.

Most intersex people feel either male or female. A small number of them feel they are somewhere between male and female. Or neither of those.

Just as with other people, intersex people are gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, pansexual or asexual. So intersex is not a separate sexual preference.

The difference between intersex and transgender

Intersex is not the same as trans, transgender or transsexual.

Transgender people are born as boys but feel female, or born as girls but feel male. Other trans people don't feel like either, or perhaps feel like both.

Intersex people have a combination of male and female genitals, hormones, chromosomes or genes. Nevertheless, most intersex people feel either male or female.

Hermaphrodite

In the past, people with both male and female genitals were called hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditus is the name of an ancient Greek god who had both breasts and a penis. This term is hardly ever used today.

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