Monday, April 18, 2011

Plight of the Intersexed

The word "hermaphrodite" has an insulting connotation. Though using it would have given my title a lively rhyme, I refrained, and in the process I learned a new word: intersex.

Sam-dog was up to some mischief with a budding daffodil. He chewed the leaves and I snapped, "Leave it." He stomped all over it and I pulled his leash a little tighter. Then, as a final insult, he drenched the poor thing in pee. While all this was going on, I was sneaking glances at a couple coming up the street.

One was tall, slim and attractive, and the other was quite a bit shorter and more on the pretty side. My temptation was to peg them as a lesbian couple, but something was holding me back. They chuckled over something one or the other said, and Tall bopped Short on the head in a teasing gesture.

They were now within my limited hearing range, and Tall said to Short, "I was born with both male and female genitals."

Short said, "Me, too!"

"No way," I mumbled to Sam. "Right here, right now they are discovering each other?" Sam wagged his tail.

Tall then said, "I knew I liked you for some reason. How cool. I was raised as a girl, but I feel more boyish so I'm going with that for now." Short smiled and said, "I feel more girl, but not always. You get it." They fist bumped with joy and changed the subject to video games.

They seemed completely unfazed by my presence, and that gave me a moment of joy. The world and all its humans still has trouble accepting intersex individuals, so for these two to speak so freely in front of an audience... and they chose the right audience because I was nothing but happy for them... and a little relieved.

It's not a comfortable thought for anyone who doesn't have the condition (Condition? Genetic make-up? Gift? Curse? I'm lost in semantics, here.) to think that a penis and vagina--in all different stages of development--could exist in one pelvic region. We think of the classic breeding pair, with an innie and outie and eggs and sperm and that's how we're, well, conditioned.

While their voices were going out of range, I was thinking of worms. It still takes two of them to breed, but they have both parts, those crazy, lucky worms. In the worm world it's perfectly natural, so why not in the world of humans? Why the heck not?


  1. There has been a lot research done on certain species of fish that change sex as the environmental stress demands it. It can be an advantage to have more of one sex than the other in some situations for the fish, though has proven to not be the case for our species. I'm all for vive la difference, but perhaps evolution has something else in mind for us.

  2. Our inability to accept and insistence on making a choice is, in a way, our way of adapting to the current environment. We're a confused bunch, aren't we?

  3. Well, as an intersex person myself, I see it more as a gift. Being that I have both parts and see myself as a tomboy and feel more in the middle than either male or female.

  4. Glad to hear that. More is always better in my book! Now to work on getting everyone else caught up...

  5. Glad that people are more understanding about intersex people and more sympathetic towards intersex people.