Gender & Sexuality What is Intersex? Intersex people are individuals who have a combination of what is culturally thought of as male and female anatomy or physiology. In short, an intersex person will have an anatomy or physiology that does not fit into the rigid definitions of male or female. Intersex is not a disease or disorder. It is simply a common variation of the human body. In fact, according to The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, there are approximately 358,105 people with intersex variations in the UK alone. Many people may not be aware that they are intersex, since many intersex variations are not external. What types of intersex variations are there? Some intersex people have genitalia that does not fit exclusively into the constructs of male or female. Other intersex folks might have internal reproductive organs that do not match their external sex characteristics. Intersex characteristics may appear as, but are not limited to, any of the following: · Genitalia that is not exclusively male or female · Internal sex organs that do not match the external sex characteristics · Varied chromosomes (XXY, XYY, etc.) · Hormone levels that are uncommon for the assigned sex at birth (high testosterone levels in someone who was assigned female at birth) · Having both ovarian and testicular tissues Is there something wrong with me if I am intersex? Absolutely not! Being intersex is not a disorder, and is a perfectly normal and healthy way to exist. Intersex variations, though they may be unknown, are relatively common, and cause no harm to your health. Some intersex people may choose to have surgery to align their physical self with their gender identity, but many do not and live very happy lives. What else should I know about intersex people? Many infant children born with ambiguous genitalia are operated on with the consent of the parents to align their genitals with one particular gender to raise them that way. Many intersex activists disagree with these surgeries, since they are not medically necessary in most cases and the infant child cannot consent to the operation. The biggest thing that intersex people need is support from their family and peers. For intersex children, it is important for them to have support and love from their families, and the opportunity to connect with other children that are also intersex. What Next? MORE READING For more about gender identity, check out Being transgender, Being non-binary and A-Z of gender identity. SUPPORT If you’d like to learn more about what it’s like in the UK, check out Organisation Intersex International. If you are interested in finding support for intersex people, check out this list of UK Support Groups. For more information about gender, visit www.genderedintelligence.co.uk. If you would like to speak with someone about LGBTQ+ issues, call Switchboard at 0300 330 0630 between 10am-10pm, email [email protected], or access their web text chat here. If you would like to speak to someone about coming out, family problems, sexual health, or training for your company or provider, contact Support U at 0118 321 9111. Check out our OutLife Forums for a safe and non-judgmental space where LGBTQ+ people can talk to one another about their issues and life experience.