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Encyclopedia > Intersexual

An intersexual or intersex person (or animal of any unisexual species) is one who is born with genitalia and/or secondary sexual characteristics of indeterminate sex, or which combine features of both sexes. (The terms hermaphrodite and pseudohermaphrodite, which have been used in the past, are now considered pejorative and inaccurate and are no longer used to refer to an intersexual person.) Sometimes the phrase "ambiguous genitalia" is used. Unisexual species are those in which each indivdual generally shows the characteristics of only one sex, such as animal species which are divisible into male or female or plant species which are divisible into pistillate or staminate. ... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... Insert tab A into slot B. ... The 1st-century BC sculpture The Reclining Hermaphrodite, in the Museo Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme in Rome In zoology, a hermaphrodite is an organism of a species whose members possess both male and female sexual organs during their lives. ... A word or phrase is pejorative or derogatory (sometimes misspelled perjorative) if it expresses contempt or disapproval; dyslogistic (noun: dyslogism) is used synonymously (antonyms: meliorative, eulogistic, noun eulogism). ...


According to the highest estimates (Fausto-Sterling et. al., 2000) perhaps 1 percent of live births exhibit some degree of sexual ambiguity [1], and that between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including surgery to disguise their sexual ambiguity. Other sources (Leonard Sax, 2002) estimate the incidence of true intersexual conditions as far lower, at approximately 0.018%. Newborn with suctioning and umbilical cord Childbirth (also called labour, birth, or parturition) is the culmination of pregnancy, the emergence of a child from its mothers uterus. ... A typical modern surgery operation For other meanings of the word, see Surgery (disambiguation) Surgery (from the Greek cheirourgia - lit. ...


In typical fetal development, the presence of the SRY gene causes the fetal gonads to become testes; the absence of it allows the gonads to continue to develop into ovaries. Thereafter, the development of the internal reproductive organs and the external genitalia is determined by hormones produced by fetal gonads (ovaries or testes) and the cells' response to them. The initial appearance of the fetal genitalia (a few weeks after conception) is basically feminine: a pair of "urogenital folds" with a small protuberance in the middle, and the urethra behind the protuberance. If the fetus has testes, and if the testes produce testosterone, and if the cells of the genitals respond to the testosterone, the outer urogenital folds swell and fuse in the midline to produce the scrotum; the protuberance grows larger and straighter to form the penis; the inner urogenital swellings swell, wrap around the penis, and fuse in the midline to form the penile urethra. Fetus at eight weeks A fetus (alternatively foetus or fœtus) is an unborn human offspring from the end of the 8th week of pregnancy (when the major structures have formed) until birth. ... SRY is the sex-determining Y chromosome gene in humans and other primates, linked to determining males. ... The gonad is the organ that makes gametes. ... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... The urogenital folds are an embryological structure which give rise to a portion of the external genitalia. ... Male anatomy Female anatomy In anatomy, the urethra is a tube which connects the urinary bladder to the outside of the body. ...


Because there is variation in all of these processes, a child can be born with a sexual anatomy that is typically female, or feminine in appearance with a larger than average clitoris; or typically male, masculine in appearance with a smaller than average penis that is open along the underside. The appearance may be quite ambiguous, describable as female genitals with a very large clitoris and partially fused labia, or as male genitals with a very small penis, completely open along the midline ("hypospadic"), and empty scrotum. A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, narrowly defined, is any of those parts of the body (which are not always bodily organs according to the strict definition) which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in an complex organism; namely: Male: penis (notably the glans penis... A womans clitoris extends from the visible portion to a point below the pubic bone. ... The penis (plural penises or penes) or phallus is the external male copulatory organ, and, in mammals, the external male organ of urination. ... Hypospadias is a birth defect of the urethra in the male that involves an abnormally placed urethral meatus (opening). ...


There are dozens of named medical conditions that may lead to intersex anatomy. Fertility is variable. The distinctions "male pseudohermaphrodite", "female pseudohermaphrodite" and especially "true hermaphrodite" are vestiges of 19th century thinking that placed "true sex" in the histology (microscopic appearance) of the gonads. Histology is the study of tissue sectioned as a thin slice, using a microscope. ... The gonad is the organ that makes gametes. ...


The common habit in the 21st century of elevating the role of the sex chromosomes above all other factors when determining gender may be analogous to the older habit of finding "true" sex in the gonads. Though high school biology teaches that men have XY and women XX chromosomes, in fact there are quite a few other possible combinations such as XO, XXX, XXY, XYY, XO/XY, XX male, XY female, and there are many individuals who do not follow the typical patterns (such as cases with four or even more sex chromosomes). A sex-determination system is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. ... Turner syndrome is a human genetic abnormality, caused by a nondisjunction in the sex chromosomes that occurs in females (1 out of every 2,500 births). ... Triple X syndrome is a chromosomal aneuploid abnormality characterized by the presence of an extra X chromosome in each cell of a human female. ... XXY karyotype Klinefelters syndrome is a condition caused by a chromosome abnormality in males (specifically, a nondisjunction); sufferers have a pair of X sex chromosomes instead of just one. ... XYY, or XYY syndrome and also known as the Jacob Syndrome, is a trisomy of the sex chromosomes in which a human male receives an extra Y chromosome in each cell, hence having a karyotype of 47,XYY. Effects Physical traits XYY syndrome typically causes no unusual physical features or... Swyer syndrome, or XY gonadal dysgenesis, is a type of female hypogonadism in which no functional gonads are present to induce puberty in an otherwise normal girl whose karyotype is then found to be XY. Her gonads are found to be nonfunctional streaks. ...


Today, people looking for simple answers are more likely to have faith in the sex chromosomes than in gonadal histology. But in fact, sex is determined by a multitude of factors, and when these factors are inconsistent, no one factor can be thought to determine the "true" sex, if such a concept even exists.

Contents


Biological causes of intersexuality

Typical males have sex chromosomes XY and typical females XX. One biological definition of a male child is the presence of a Y chromosome. This definition has sometimes been used for sex determination at sports events, but it caused much confusion because it doesn't always apply.


The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of virilizing hormones. In genetic females, this leads to an appearance that may be slightly masculinized (large clitoris) to quite masculine. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) refers to any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from defects in steps of the synthesis of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. ... In mammals, the adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys. ...


In many cases individuals are neither XX nor XY:

  • The presence of one or two additional X chromosomes in a male (XXY or XXXY) may cause Klinefelter's syndrome.
  • A single X chromosome (XO) is called Turner's syndrome. Is characterized by a lack or incomplete development of certain primary and secondary female characteristics and is associated with a range of medical issues.
  • sex chromosomal mosaicism can cause what was once called "true hermaphroditism", the presence of both testicular and ovarian tissue in one individual

One of the most common cases is a fetus with XY chromosomes but where for some reason a fertile male child does not develop. In the following cases the child retains an outward male appearance: XXY karyotype Klinefelters syndrome is a condition caused by a chromosome abnormality in males (specifically, a nondisjunction); sufferers have a pair of X sex chromosomes instead of just one. ... Mosaicism In medicine (genetics), a mosaic or mosaicism denotes the presence of two populations of cells with different genotypes in one patient, where usually one of the two is affected by a genetic disorder. ...

The following further XY cases leads to intersexuality: Swyer syndrome, or XY gonadal dysgenesis, is a type of female hypogonadism in which no functional gonads are present to induce puberty in an otherwise normal girl whose karyotype is then found to be XY. Her gonads are found to be nonfunctional streaks. ... Testis-determining factor is a general term for the gene (or product thereof) that results in maleness in humans and some other species. ... Persistent mullerian duct syndrome (PMDS) refers to the presence of a uterus and sometimes other mullerian duct derivatives in a male. ... Antimullerian hormone is a protein hormone produced by human and other mammalian gonads. ...

  • Androgen insensitivity syndrome. They develop either partially or fully as females, due to their bodies failing to respond to testosterone. In the case of complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), their tissues are totally insensitive to androgens, and they will develop as females, with normal female external organs. However, they will not develop a uterus or fallopian tubes, due to the production of Mullerian inhibiting factor by their testes. At puberty breasts will develop due to the production of estrogen by the testes; but no menstruation will occur due to the lack of a uterus. The tissues of individuals with partial androgen insensitivity, by contrast, have partial sensitivity to testosterone, but it is reduced compared to the male normal. These individuals can develop with either male external anatomy, or female external anatomy, or some combination, depending on the degree of insensitivity.
  • 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. In this condition, individuals have testes, as well as vagina and labia, but with a small penis capable of ejaculation instead of a clitoris (this penis, however, appears to be a clitoris at birth). These individuals are normally raised as girls. However, come puberty, their testes will descend, their voice will deepen and they often will develop a male sexual identity. But they develop only limited facial hair. The number of people with this condition varies geographically, depending on how much of a given population is interrelated.

Excessive in utero exposure to androgens may lead to intersexuality in XX cases: Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is a set of disorders of sexual differentiation that results from mutations of the gene encoding the androgen receptor. ... Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. ... Androgen is the generic term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone, that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors. ... Estrogens (or oestrogens) are a group of steroid compounds that function as the primary female sex hormone. ... 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (5-ARD) is a condition caused by a mutation of the 5-alpha reductase type 2 gene. ... The penis (plural penises or penes) or phallus is the external male copulatory organ, and, in mammals, the external male organ of urination. ...

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: Female internal anatomy, but ambiguous or male external genitalia, and develop male secondary sexual characteristics.
  • Progestin-induced virilisation. In this case, the male hormones are caused by use of progestin, a drug that was used in the 1950s and 1960s in order to prevent miscarriage. These individuals have internal and external female anatomy. They develop however some male secondary characteristics, and they frequently have unusually large clitorises.

A similar phenomenon occurs in cases where a cow brings two fraternal twins, one male and one female, to term. Because (unlike humans) such twins share hormones via their placental blood interface with the mother cow, male hormones produced in the body of the fetal bull find their way into the body of the fetal cow and masculinize her brain. The result is a freemartin (unconventional heifer), a cow that will eventually try to mount other cows the way that a bull would. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) refers to any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from defects in steps of the synthesis of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. ... A progestin is a synthetic progestagen. ... A freemartin is a female bovine with a masculinized brain that behaves as would a bull, at least insofar as it will mount normal females. ...


In XX male syndrome (also called de la Chapelle syndrome) the resulting child is usually a phenotypically normal male, but without sperm production. This syndrome is sometimes the result of an abnormal interchange of the SRY region from a Y chromosome to an X. SRY is the sex-determining Y chromosome gene in humans and other primates, linked to determining males. ...


Chimerism

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, vol 338, p 166, physicians in the Western General Hospital of Edinburgh have reported on a child with a penis, one testicle, and an ovary and fallopian tube instead of a second testicle. Some of this child's body cells are XY (male), and some are XX (female). The child was conceived as the result of in-vitro fertilization, and it appears most likely that two embryos, a male embryo and a female embryo, fused before or soon after embryos were transferred to the mother's uterus. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a technique in which egg cells are fertilized outside the mothers body in cases where conception is difficult or impossible through normal intercourse. ...


This kind of condition, where there is more than one set of cell lines with different sets of chromosomes making up the body is known as chimerism. This kind of tetraploid chimerism can also occur naturally (see New England Journal of Medicine, vol 346, p 1545). In zoology, a chimera is an animal which has (at least) two different populations of cells, which are genetically distinct and which originated in different zygotes (fertilised eggs). ... Polyploid (in Greek: πολλαπλόν - multiple) cells or organisms contain more than one copy (ploidy) of their chromosomes. ...


Treatment of intersexuals by society

Intersexual individuals are treated in different ways by different cultures. In some cultures intersexuals were included in larger "third gender" or gender-blending social roles along with other individuals. In most societies, intersexed individuals have been expected to select one sex, and conform to its gender role. A bagpiper in Scottish military uniform. ...


Since the rise of modern medical science in Western societies, intersexuals with ambiguous external genitalia have had their genitalia surgically modified to resemble either male or female genitals. But there are increasing calls for recognition of the various degrees of intersexuality as healthy variations which should not be subject to correction. Some have attacked the common Western practice of performing corrective surgery on the genitals of intersexuals as a Western cultural equivalent of female genital mutilation. Despite the attacks on the practice, most of the medical profession still supports it. Others have claimed that the talk about third sexes represents an ideological agenda to deride gender as a social construct whereas they believe gender is a biological reality. Female circumcision (including excision) loosely refers to a number of procedures performed on the female genitalia and which are generally of a cultural, rather than medical, nature. ...


Corrective surgery is generally not necessary for protection of life or health, but purely for aesthetic or social purposes. It may lead to negative consequences for sexual functioning in later life, which would have been avoided without the surgery; in other cases negative consequences are avoided by surgery. Defenders of the practice argue that it is necessary for individuals to be clearly identified as male or female in order for them to function socially. However, most intersex individuals have resented the medical intervention, and some have been so discontented with their surgically assigned gender as to opt for sexual reassignment surgery later in life. Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) includes the surgical procedures by which a persons physical appearance and function of their existing sexual characteristics are changed to that of the other sex. ...


The writer Anne Fausto-Sterling coined the words herm (for hermaphrodite), merm (for an intersex person that most closely resembles a male), and ferm (for an intersex person that most closely resembles a female), and proposed that these be recognized as sexes along with male and female. However, her use was "tongue-in-cheek"; she no longer advocates these terms even as a rhetorical device. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ph. ... A neologism is word, term, or phrase which has been recently created (coined) —often to apply to new concepts, or to reshape older terms in newer language form. ...


See also:

  • List of transgender-related topics
  • Hermaphrodite

Conditions: Transgender is a very complex topic, where definitions are often still up in the air. ... The 1st-century BC sculpture The Reclining Hermaphrodite, in the Museo Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme in Rome In zoology, a hermaphrodite is an organism of a species whose members possess both male and female sexual organs during their lives. ...

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is a set of disorders of sexual differentiation that results from mutations of the gene encoding the androgen receptor. ... Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) refers to any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from defects in steps of the synthesis of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. ... 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (5-ARD) is a condition caused by a mutation of the 5-alpha reductase type 2 gene. ... Hypospadias is a birth defect of the urethra in the male that involves an abnormally placed urethral meatus (opening). ... XXY karyotype Klinefelters syndrome is a condition caused by a chromosome abnormality in males (specifically, a nondisjunction); sufferers have a pair of X sex chromosomes instead of just one. ...

References

  • Blackless, Melanie, Anthony Charuvastra, Amanda Derryck, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Karl Lauzanne, and Ellen Lee. 2000. How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis. American Journal of Human Biology 12:151-166.
  • Dreifus, Claudia. "A Conversation with Anne Fausto-Sterling" The New York Times. 2 January 2001 (p. F3).
  • Heard, Alex. "Out There: Everything But the Truth" The Washington Post Magazine. 4 September 1988 (p. W9).
  • Musto, Michael. "La Dolce Musto". The Village Voice. 22 September 1998 (p. 12).
  • Sax, Leonard. How common is intersex? A response to Anne Fausto-Sterling. J Sex Research 39:174-9, 2002
  • (2004) The Evolution of Self-Fertile Hermaphroditism: The Fog Is Clearing. PLoS Biol 3(1): e30.

January 2 is the 2nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2001 is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 4 is the 247th day of the year (248th in leap years). ... 1988 is a leap year starting on a Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 22 is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years). ... 1998 is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ...

External links

  • Intersex Society of North America
  • Bodies Like Ours
  • Intersex Initiative
  • New guidelines for treating 'intersex' babies Doctors urged not to operate on infants with unclear gender (Associated Press, Feb. 2005)
  • A Human Rights Investigation into the medical "normalization" of intersex people - a report of a hearing of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission - PDF format

  Results from FactBites:
 
Gender - Sex - 4Health from Channel 4 (2974 words)
Some intersexuals have spent a lifetime feeling like, or being treated as, freaks due to a simple, inescapable biological hiccup that occurred while they were still in the womb.
The intersexual aspects of the syndrome are caused by a tendency to low testosterone levels and therefore a 'feminised' body type, varying degrees of underdeveloped male genitalia and sterility.
Intersexuality is not a disease, but it can have just as devastating an effect where prejudice and ignorance force individuals to suffer in shame or confusion.
Intersexuals Rights| Intersexuality Preventions| Intersexuality Treatments| Intersexuals Counselling (341 words)
Some of the intersexual babies possesss Partial labial fusion or Clitoromegaly or Labial or inguinal masses.The intersexuals may show electrolyte abnormalities, delayed or absent puberty and unexpected changes at puberty as part of their intersexuality.
The treatment of an intersexual person should not be based on the external genitals but on a thorough analysis of the chromosomal gender.
Morover if the intersexuals do not want surgery, there are many support groups who argue for their rights and provide counselling to their families and friends.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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