INTERSEX: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!

“All the people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.”

Intersex people are born with physical features, such as genitals, chromosomes, or genetic features, that don’t fit what doctors expect for either female or male-typical bodies. The word ‘intersex’ does not correspond to a particular kind of body or a particular identity. Intersex people may have different variations.

You must be wondering how intersex people are assigned male or female at the time of their birth. It is generally done based on their morphological characters; in simple words based on their appearance. If the doctors are uncertain about the sex of the baby, they may perform tests. Let’s not forget that the intersex traits do not show up at the time of birth always. The characters may become observable during childhood or teenage, or even during the adult stage. In many children, the root cause of intersex may remain undetermined, even with the use of modern diagnostic techniques.

Intersex people are described using different terminologies which may include the medical phrases associated with their variation or umbrella terms. These may include variations of sex characteristics, disorders, or differences in sex development.

More scientifically, we can say that an Intersex is a group of conditions in which there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes and ovaries). Earlier, this condition was referred to as hermaphroditism. The older term continues to be used by several people all around the globe. However, the word intersex is being widely accepted now by most experts, patients, and families. Gradually, this group of conditions is being called disorders of sex development (DSDs).

Intersex can be divided into 4 categories:

• 46, XX intersex

• 46, XY intersex

• True gonadal intersex

• Complex or undetermined intersex

What challenges do intersex people face? There is a wide range of variations seen in intersex people. However, their experiences hold a lot more in common. It is hard to look different or to develop differently, from people around you. They have to visit their doctors countless times for appointments and examinations. Many times, family and friends feel uncomfortable talking about it openly.

Similar experiences, when shared among intersex support groups, make a huge difference as they may provide some relief. There are many online groups, social media-like units, support groups, etc. that offer accessible alternatives to form a community outside.

Unfortunately, even if the intersex children are completely healthy, they may have to undergo physical examinations and surgeries, and/or take hormones, to make their bodies look more like those of typical girls or boys. Surgeries or hormonal treatment may have an adverse reaction resulting in affecting the physical as well as mental health. All surgeries can lead to scarring and a loss of feeling in and around the affected body parts.

Bullying is a common problem for all and there’s no assurance that the surgery prevents it. The ground reality is that every person can live happily with all kinds of bodies only if we treat each other as equals. We need to have a better understanding of what one is going through. We need to show compassion and not let the intersex part of society feel they are incapable. One should acknowledge that people can live happily with all kinds of bodies if we love and support each other.

When it comes to the medical assistance required by intersex people, they should have the right to make decisions about their bodies and identities. In Some treatments, surgeries might be the need for the health of an intersex person. Surgeries that include genitals will need follow-up procedures and long care. The constant examination of the children’s genitals and other body parts by a doctor can make the child distressed.

Some intersex people may have other kinds of health issues that aren’t related to their appearance and identities. These include infertility, psychosocial issues, or physical health issues associated with other variations. In between the chaos of surgeries and hormonal treatment such issues generally get ignored. Intersex people must get our full support to manage their overall health and well-being. Peer support groups and experienced counsellors can be of great help.

Are intersex people LGBT?

Intersex is often included in LGBTI spaces. This can support many intersex people, but it doesn’t mean that intersex people are understood in those spaces. Just like other people, some intersex people grow up to be same-sex attracted, and some grow up to be heterosexual. Some intersex people will identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and others will be non-binary or transgender. All these identities are acceptable.

Human rights organizations and intersex-led groups have called for legal protections and called for changes to medical practices so that parents are not asked about their consent to medical interventions to change the physical appearance of their child. Only the person having the medical treatment should be able to consent to it.

Popular TV shows such as Satyamev Jayate helped raise awareness among parents about LGBTQIA+ issues. Considering TV and movies are accessible even in rural populations, these could prove to be the most effective tools in readdressing the roles and school of thought through serials and stories.It is a motivating sign that schools and colleges have begun to discuss LGBTQIA+ willingly. The youth of today understands and accepts homosexuality and queer identities. Sadly, the acceptance of their sexuality and freedom to openly express their gender choices in India remains an endless struggle for most LGBTQIA+ people till now. Let’s together work on making our nation a better place for everyone!

“Enjoy being who you are, irrespective of your gender.”

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! Making each month a PRIDE!

By- APARAJITA VERMA