Dealing with Intersexuality


Dealing with Intersexuality: A Range of Realities

As we have repeatedly seen in this course, human sexuality is, in all of its aspects, a matter of degree:

The basic aspects of human sexuality - physical sex, gender role, and sexual orientation -
are matters of degree.
Intersexuality is a matter of degree.
The various intersexual conditions are, in themselves, also matters of degree.

In each of these instances, we are not dealing with clear-cut alternatives, but with a spectrum of possibilities and, indeed, realities. Such spectra are found everywhere in nature, and, of course, they have long been well known to biologists. However, Western civilization as a whole has tended to turn a blind eye to the obvious and to misread nature as a sum of definite, immutable entities. People preferred to believe in natural absolutes, fitting all observed phenomena in into a neat, hierarchical system of invariables.Thus, they also thought of the sexes as clearly definable opposites (“opposite sex”). They refused to accept intermediate stages as valid in themselves and dismissed all physical and psychological variations as deviations from some eternal norm.


It was only the slow, painful progress of modern science that enabled people to develop a less rigid view, to discover ranges within categories and to notice transitions from one natural phenomenon to another. Especially since Charles Darwin (1809 -1882), biologists began to understand and appreciate the enormous capacity of nature to produce variations. Indeed, they came to realize that this capacity is the very source of all life on our planet. This insight and its implications have not yet been absorbed by everyone. However, at least in the case of intersexuality, the medical profession and society at large are now becoming familiar with some old biological truths. This process has been greatly helped by the formation and tireless work of intersexual advocacy and support groups.

[Course 3] [Description] [How to use it] [Introduction] [Problems in Females] [Problems in Males] [Intersexuality] [Introduction] [Intersexual Spectrum] [Dealing w. Intersex.] [Additional Reading] [Examination]