Trans and Intersex

Intersex is a set of medical conditions that feature congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system.

Transgender people are those whose psychological self differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with.

Gender Equity Resource Center

What does sex and gender mean for transgender people?

Transgender is an “umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.” Transgender people include “transsexuals, cross-dressers (transvestites), transgenderists, gender queers, and people who identify as neither female nor male and/or as neither a man or as a woman.”

Trans men = transitioned or transitioning adult human female, female-to-male (FTM), female-to-trans (FtT)
Female = XX sex chromosomes that determine female genitalia (vagina, ovaries), female secondary characteristics (breasts, etc.), etc.

In summary, trans men = XX or female, AKA biologically women

Trans women = transitioned/transitioning adult human male, male-to-female (MTF), male-to-trans (MtT)
Male = XY sex chromosomes that determine male genitalia (penis, testes), male secondary characteristics (beard, etc.), etc.

In summary, trans women = XY or male, AKA biologically men


What about intersex people?

Intersex does not mean trans (not transgender men or women, not transsexual). Intersex refers to disorders of sex development in which external sex (genitals) does not match internal sex (ovaries, testes).

46, XX Intersex = female, XX sex chromosomes, external genitalia appears male, internal sex (ovaries) is normal

46, XY Intersex = male, XY sex chromosomes, external genitalia may be female, internal sex (testes) may be normal, malformed or absent

True Gonadal Intersex = both internal sex tissue (ovarian and testicular), XX, XY or both sex chromosomes, external genitals may be ambiguous or appear either male or female

Complex or Undetermined Intersex = missing or extra sex chromosomes, including XO, XXX, XXY, no discrepancy between internal and external sex, but  problems with sex hormone levels or overall sexual development may be present

According to the British Medical Journal, “The overall incidence of all disorders of sexual development (DSD) has been estimated at 1.7%, but this includes conditions that do not present with ambiguous genitalia at birth, such as Turner’s syndrome, Klinefelter’s syndrome, and complete androgen resistance.” As such, it is currently debated whether or not this number is representative.

The Intersex Society of North America notes that “If you ask experts at medical centers how often a child is born so noticeably atypical in terms of genitalia that a specialist in sex differentiation is called in, the number comes out to about 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 births.” This translates to a prevalence of about 0.05-0.067%.

The term intersex would not exist without the distinct concepts of female and male and does not disprove sexual dimorphism or the sex binary. It is simply the rare exception to the general rule.


One thought on “Trans and Intersex

  1. intersex conditions are very complex..for a start they arent always externally obvious.. AIS for instance can produce a healthy, XY infant with sexual characteristics indistinguishable from normal female genitalia.. no normal healthy infant is routinely karotyped…so AIS is commonly undiagnosed until adolescence when secondary sex characteristics fail to materialise, or adulthood when fertility advice is sought and they are found not to possess internal female organs. these are women born as female raised and socialised as female but who have XY chromosomes.
    On the other hand, ambiguous genitalia and genital defects are usually immediately obvious and can be part of a congenital syndrome presenting with much more pressing and urgent concerns…
    The only experience i have of ambiguous genitalia in a newborn is undiagnosed trisomy 13 – Patau syndrome. a completely devastating diagnosis neary always incompatible with life. These babies are also born with catastrophic facial, skull and other abnormalities, – this child i helped to birth had immediately obvious, life threatening problems, and severe facial defects, yet amid all the medical activity and emergency interventions, the one thing everyone wanted to know was ‘ is our babe a boy or a girl?’ if they felt they couldnt know this tiny human in some deeply profound way without knowing if they had a son or a daughter..? without supplying a gender they werent sure how to proceed to even say goodbye… i conclude, that humans in some way feel that biological sex is fundamental information we need to relate to other people.. even little tiny babies..and that gender just kind of follows on from that depending on cultural and social influences..etcetcetc.without any of us thinking too much about it until it comes to bite our own personal arses… its deep in all of us. . its the first thing everyone wants to know and gets excited about.. the sexing of a baby starts an immediate, instant narrative in the mind about how to go about forming a relationship with an unknowable brand-new infant human being. On the very basic level it helps us believe we can know them better somehow. so yeah.. gender starts right there, intersex is really bloody complicated, and transgenderists who claim to be intersex should have no problem proving it with medical evidence…and people who really do have medically diagnosed disorders of sexual development are very keen to distance themselves from the trans movement and offended by the transjacktavists hitching a ride.


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