What is intersexuality? Causes, symptoms and treatment of intersexuality

Intersexuality is otherwise hermaphroditism or hermaphroditism. This concept should be understood as the presence of female and male sexual organs in one person. Although the percentage of people with intersexuality is very low, it is worth knowing what the developmental disorder is, what it results from and what the procedure looks like after its detection.

What is intersexuality?

Intersexuality is a developmental disorder also known as hermaphroditism or hermaphroditism. It consists in having by a man the features of both sexes, i.e. both male and female sexual organs at the same time. This means that there is no biocompatibility. In intersex people after birth, sexual characteristics are visible that are not characteristic of binary notions of the male or female body. The scope of these differences in structure is very wide, as it concerns the structure of chromosomes, gonads and genitals.

Some of these changes are visible immediately after birth, but often intersex features do not become apparent until puberty, and chromosomal features will never be physically visible at all. According to sexology, the concept of gender is very complicated. It consists of eight ingredients. These are:

  1. hormonal sex;
  2. metabolic sex;
  3. chromosomal sex;
  4. gonadal sex;
  5. cerebral sex;
  6. the sex of the internal genitalia;
  7. the sex of the external genitalia;
  8. social and legal gender;
  9. mental gender.

Importantly, each of these ingredients can be described independently of each other as typical for a man, typical for a woman, and impossible to define. In a situation where one of the components of biological sex is not compatible with the others, we can speak of intersexuality.

Sexual characteristics in intersex people should be understood as:

  1. primary sex characteristics segment, and therefore ovaries or testes;
  2. the segment of secondary sexual characteristics, i.e. those in which external sexual organs are located, such as the vagina or the penis;
  3. the segment of tertiary sexual characteristics that relate to the external appearance of a person, such as enlarged breasts, large muscle mass, facial hair, or a woman’s waist.

The development of intersexuality occurs in utero, which means that a person is born with it. It can take two forms:

  1. true intersexuality;
  2. pseudo male intersexuality or pseudo female intersexuality.

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Intersexuality – manifestations

True intersexuality is a disorder found in a small number of newborn babies. It is manifested by the presence of both male and female genitalia in one child. This means that a newborn baby may have both a testicle and an ovary, or one of the organs, but it is a combination of two characteristic of both sexes.

Pseudo intersexuality it is a disorder that is much more common than true intersexuality. Within the framework of pseudo intersexuality, it can be distinguished between pseudo-male intersexism and pseudo-female intersexuality. It is based on a certain contradiction between a person’s sex, as defined by chromosomes in utero, and a person’s physical appearance.

Pseudo-female hermaphroditism it is that a person who feels genetically a woman has male sex organs, so his labia may be partially fused, and the clitoris looks like a small penis. In turn, in the case of alleged male androgynism features of a woman’s sexual organs are seen in a person who is genetically female.

Intersexuality – causes

Among the main causes of intersexuality are disorders in the functioning of hormones and genetic mutations. The chromosomes are responsible for the sex of the baby, so if any genetic abnormalities occur in the fetal stage, the chromosome may not receive information about the sex of the future baby. Then the fetus develops in both directions, and thus becomes zwitterionic.

Sexual development disorders also include dysfunctions caused by minor aberrations, such as X chromosome trisomy, excess Y chromosome, or sex chromosome deficiencies. They most often cause mutations in genes responsible for the development of sex and sexual characteristics, i.e. the SRY, SOX9 or WNT4 genes. In addition, they may also be androgen and estrogen receptor coding sequences. Mutations of genes, the products of which are needed for the production of biologically active forms of sex hormones, may also be important.

Hormonal disorders are also responsible for intersexuality, which can lead to abnormalities in the structure of the child’s sexual organs and, as a result, lead to intersexuality.

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Intersexuality – treatment

The procedure for diagnosing intersexuality is not obvious. It has been assumed that there are two concepts. According to one of them, intersexuality requires immediate treatment, which involves surgical intervention. During such a procedure, the genitals are corrected towards one of the sexes, and then hormone therapy is implemented. Most often, right after the birth of the child, a decision is made regarding the future sex of the child, and on this basis, a decision is made on further surgical treatment. Such a situation carries the risk that the wrong gender choice will be made. Therefore, the intersex community demands that such practices be stopped and that the decision is left to the person concerned.

On the other hand, the second solution is to postpone the surgical treatment until the child is able to determine which sex is closer to him. This solution is feasible as long as the postponement of the operation does not endanger the life and health of the child. A child is usually able to make a decision about his or her gender as early as during puberty. However, it happens that the decision is made only when they reach the age of majority, or even later.

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Intersexuality – interactions with the environment

For an intersex person, the attitude of the closest environment to this disorder is very important. Unfortunately, it often turns out that a child’s intersexuality is a big problem, even for parents and guardians. It is a source of shame that is either ignored or superseded by them. This is undoubtedly a very difficult situation, and an intersex child will require support and a large dose of cordial understanding to avoid anxiety, neurosis and even severe depression.

An intersex person growing up in a supportive environment will have much less difficulty deciding whether to feel more like a woman or a man. Only then will she be subjected to treatment aimed at getting rid of unnecessary gender features.

Intersexuality in the world

Currently, the World Intergender Awareness Day is being celebrated all over the world. This day was established in 2004 and is celebrated on October 26. It was inspired by a 1996 demonstration by activists from the Intersex Society of North America in Berlin against discrimination against intersex people, as well as the resignation from performing frequently harmful operations without their consent.

Intersex people only want to respect their rights, and above all the right to decide about their gender. Moreover, they want all surgical interventions to be withheld until the intersex person is able to decide on their own gender, and not to conceal their intersexuality from their parents and caregivers.

Intersexuality and transgenderism

Intergender is still a taboo subject. Little is said about it, which is why for many people it is synonymous with transgenderism, which is a completely separate term. Transgender is more about identity, which is how someone identifies with gender. Intersexity, on the other hand, is closely related to body composition. Intersex people identify themselves as women or men, but it is natural that this group will also include, for example, transgender or non-binary people.

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