Intersex Children And The Battle Over Their Gender

Germany, Australia and some universities have opted to let parents and intersex individuals choose a third gender option other than male and female on official documents, birth certificates and enrollment forms. But the Organisation Intersex International Europe feels that even this option continues to stigmatize intersex individuals as "others" and does nothing to stop the harmful surgeries that unfairly allow medical officials to decide someone's gender and deprive people of their right to choose treatments best for them.

Ambrose — who appeared at age 24 as Kristi in a short documentary called XXXY — now works for The Interface Project, a non-profit legal advocacy group for intersex individuals. The Interface Project discourages doctors and parents from administering sex-assignment surgery for intersex infants. Rather, they suggest explaining the condition to their children, providing medical and emotional counseling for intersex children and their families and letting the child have a say in their biological determination when they are older and more informed.

Watch the XXXY documentary below:

XXXY (2000) (HD) from Interface Project on Vimeo.


  1. CPT_Doom says

    @Xander – actually, the presence of intersex people is pretty vital to the LGBT movement. Because we know that there are human beings with indeterminate biological gender, it makes the notion that there are other human beings with different, hardwired, gender identities (including sexual orientation) than their “parts” may imply more understandable. In fact, one can think of LGBT people as an extension of the intersex – although we tend to be biologically fertile (which is relatively rare for the intersex), we represent a waypoint between the genders, just like intersex people.

  2. stevetalbert says

    It’s actually for these types of people that the whole push for LGBTQ is so important. Eventually it will just be people without the letters. As gay people particularly, we should be challenging the whole notion of “feminine” and “masculine” – which are definitely socialized. These people can’t even be socialized.

    I used to look “down” on “butch dykes” and “queeny drags”.. but later realized that the levels were artificial and that maintaining them was the real problem. We are strongest when we realize what we thought was our “weakness” was just a different way to be strong.

  3. will says

    Doesn’t the “I” stand for intersex in LGBTQQIAAPK?

    The two Qs are for queer and questioning. The two As are for asexual and androgynous.

    BTW: How does pansexuality differ from classical bisexuality?

  4. Buckie says

    He’s handsome and has nice eyes.

    Stupid attempts of humor aside, he represents one in every 2,000.

    Reality makes people uncomfortable when they’re ignorant of it. They’ve always existed. There are biblical references to them; even Jesus mentions them in the New Testament…

    Fear of our differences is what corrodes and hurts. We don’t have to choose fear. Not anymore.

  5. OddBet says

    Sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct concepts. Just because you see yourself as “between the genders” does not mean that all LGB individuals do.

  6. Sam says

    Intersex is common and it is just another group that the “T activists” hijacked when there are no gender identity issues. In fact most of them are heterosexual.

  7. Vera says

    Everything else aside I am just sick of hearing the Gender/Sex are social constructs argument, it is such an intellectual fallacy. Yes, anatomy is not destiny but to ignore it is lunacy. Society doesn’t give one their gender or sex characteristics, hate to say it, biology does. I wish equity Feminism would get off its ass and make the push that women and men are different and we do not need to be exactly like men, because we are not. That’s the problem with equality, black must be white, gay must be straight, and women must either be totally feminine or afeminine.

  8. Marlon Manroe says

    @Vera – Gender/Sex may not be social constructs but Gender Roles most definitely are just that. Society pressures people into thinking they’re supposed to fit into some mold of what a man or woman is supposed to be. There’s no such thing. If you have a penis, then physically you’re a man. A vagina = woman (again, physically, as I know there are Trans factors). There’s nothing more to prove or live up to.

    But in agreement with you, I don’t see the point in focusing on how Men and Women supposedly are or aren’t similar. It’s okay for both sexes to be whatever they are: butch, feminine, and the millions of shades between. It doesn’t matter. It’s all equal.

  9. Vera says

    @Marlon Manroe
    Oh of course, most gender roles are social constructs and if you ask me they’re a continuation of the primordial roles of female apes which usually prevail in the caretaking of children. Over time, we had a more complex set of roles and named it ‘domestic’.

  10. Rick says

    Actually, what would solve the whole debate about whether “gender is a construct” would be for men to stop being chivalrous to women… soon as men did so, women would realize that they are inherently weak and therefore unequal and entirely dependent on the good will of men and the willingness of men to police each other……the only things that prevent women from essentially being slaves to men’s whims.

    As the Iranian Revolution demonstrated, men as a group can do pretty much anything they want to with and to women as a group, if they are united in that purpose.

  11. MichaelJ says

    Anyone not convinced that children born with unusual genitalia should not be subject to sex-assignment surgery should read the interesting Q&A session on Reddit held by a very articulate young man with two penises. (See link on His enlightened parents did not alter his physical difference, refused to have their son be put on display by his doctor to others in the medical community, and advised him in a very loving way how to cope with his difference while growing up. They are a model of how parents should respond to having intersex children.

  12. jonny says

    “Approximately one in every 2,000 children is born intersex, that is with a “reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that doesn’t seem to fit typical definitions of male or female.””

    This was obviously not written by a medical professional. The term itself is a political construct not a medical one. A girl with normal external genitalia (vagina) but no ovaries will be classified as intersex according to this rubbish..i.e girls with Turner’s syndrome which interestingly occurs in 1 in 2000. Hmmmh….

  13. TheSeer says

    There are 2 types of genitalia (male(A) and female(B)) and there are 2 types of brain (male(1) and female(2)). Therefore, there are 4 genders:
    A1 – men
    A2 – gays
    B1 – lesbians
    B2 – women

  14. Thedrdonna says

    Theseer: Brain sex has no direct effect on sexuality. A female brain in a male body is a trans woman, not a gay man. Sexuality is separate from brain sex.

    Now, to be fair, a majority of trans folks are LGB, but that’s a secondary effect, not the primary effect. Your statement basically says that trans folk are just really really gay, which isn’t true at all, and promotes stereotypes of LGB and T people.

  15. bozemanmontana says

    I know Jim, he’s a wonderful, funny, sexy, one-of-a-kind guy. My world is MUCH better with people like Jim, wishing him nothing but love!

  16. Thedrdonna says

    Trans generally excludes fetishistic crossdressing, and the “majority” I mentioned regards people who transition. Those numbers have been found in surveys, which are readily available online if you care to google them. I’ve provided links to them in the past, but like all true bigots some anti-trans folk here discounted them due to one thing or another. Pretty much the same playbook as anti-gay folks use to discount why gay families are fully capable parents.

  17. andrew says

    This is a topic that brings out the gay haters, that is gays who are haters, of trans people and gender non conforming people out from under their rocks.

  18. TheSeer says

    Human being = human animal + identity

    I believe that identity is an inalienable human right, but I was always more interested in that “human animal” part of the above equation.

    “Gay Men, Straight Women Have Similar Brains”:

    TheDrDonna: The above link shows that sexuality and brain sex are correlated. But sexuality should be a private matter, and brain sex public, determining biological gender (together with the genitalia).