An intersexual is a person who has born with genitalia or secondary characteristics, determined as neither exclusively male nor female, or which combine features of both male and female sexes. Intersexuality is seen in animals other than human beings as well as in plants. As far as human beings are concerned, intersexuals occur in about one in 250,000 pregnancies. In 19th century the terms 'hermaphrodites' or 'pseudohermaphrodites', which were largely misleading, introduced to describe the intersexual people. The phrase "ambiguous genitalia" used to describe the intersexuals, refers specifically to genital appearance, but not all intersex conditions result in atypical genital appearance.
The instances of intersexuality (Hermaphroditism) can be seen in earliest mythologies also. The term "hermaphrodite" was derived from Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite in Greek mythology. Hermaphroditus fused with a nymph, resulting in possessing traits of both the sexes. The mythological figure Tiresias, who figures in the Oedipus cycle, as well as the Odyssey, was an intersexual, having been changed from a man to a woman and back by the Gods. Greek mythology cites the origin of intersexuality as a curse from Zeus.
Religions across the world cite intersexuality from a unique viewpoint. Sin is there in the world and it sometimes takes its toll on our bodies, resulting in various deformities. Therefore in rare instances babies are born with sexual organs of both sexes. Religions believe that according to God's intention those born as males act as males and those born as females act as females. After all, in the case of intersexuality, the identity of the individual is still intended by God to be one or the other and God would not make someone in contradiction to His created order and purpose.
Intersexuals are largely oppressed in all societies and cultures due to their physical deformities.For most of the societies appearance of intersexuals is always treated with disgust and terror. Societies deterred the presence of intersexuals from their midst. Since the rise of modern medical science in Western societies, many of the intersexuals were compelled to undergo surgeries to decide their sex; even though it was not necessary to protect their health or life.
The causes for intersexuality vary from person to person. Some intersexuals will have chromosomes and ovaries of women, whereas their external genitals appear as those of males. This usually happens when a female fetus gets exposed to excess male hormones before birth. 5-alpha-reductase deficiency or androgen insensitivity syndrome will be a cause for intersexuals with male chromosomes and incompletely formed, ambiguous, or clearly female external genitals. The exposure to some agricultural pesticides will result in a person having XX chromosomes and XY chromosomes that subsequently leading to true Gondal intersexuality.
We will discuss the signs, preventions and treatments for intersexuality in the next article.