Intersex

By Dr. Pauline Cundill. Updated 18th Nov. 2014

Intersex

As soon as you are born, you are assigned a sex, “it’s a boy”, or “it’s a girl”.

However many people are not fully male or female, or may be a combination of both. This is known as intersex.

Intersex is fairly common, affecting around 1% of the population.

Intersex is not a disease or a disorder. Intersex is a normal healthy variant of human development and diversity.

Intersex people may have differences in their sex chromosomes, hormones, or anatomy.

Intersex conditions may be apparent at birth, or sometimes present at puberty or later in life, for example when trying to conceive.

There is huge societal pressure to be “male” or “female”.

This has resulted in many invasive surgical procedures on intersex children, which were not medically indicated or necessary. Intersex children are often “assigned a sex” before they are able to speak for themselves. All too often intersex people have been denied their basic human rights.

It is important that Intersex people are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and receive equitable health care, with full involvement in decision making.

Intersex people may require additional medical support, such as fertility advice, mental health support, and in some cases hormonal medication. There are some useful support groups listed below. Ask your GP for more information.

Resources:

OII: Organisation Intersex International Australia

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) Support Group Australia