• "Intersex is not a sexual orientation. Although nearly all intersex have a sexual orientation, we are no different to other people in this."
  • "Intersex is not a gender nor a gender identity. Gender is a social sex role... Sex is about our anatomy."
  • "Most people with intersex differences do not know they have them. Such people have no way of identifying as intersex or any reason to do so. They have intersex differences nonetheless."
  • "Intersex is not a medical condition or a disorder or a disability or a pathology or a condition of any sort... Only a very few few ways of being intersex have links to differences that might cause illness."
  • "A hermaphrodite is a plant or animal that has both male and female reproductive organs. Until the mid-20th century, 'hermaphrodite' was used synonymously with 'intersex.' Currently, however, hermaphroditism is not to be confused with intersex, as the former refers to a specific phenotypical presentation of sex organs and the latter to a more complex combination of phenotypical and genotypical presentation, as well as social self-identification among humans. Using 'hermaphrodite' to refer to intersex individuals can be stigmatizing and misleading."
  • ​"'Disorders of Sex Development' (DSD) is a term that has both supporters and opponents. It is defined to include congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomical sex is atypical... intersex people, activists, supporters, and academics have contested the adoption of the terminology and its implied status as a 'disorder,' seeing this as offensive to intersex individuals who do not feel that there is something wrong with them, regard the DSD consensus paper as reinforcing the normativity of early surgical interventions, and criticizing the treatment protocols associated with the new taxonomy."
  • "​Organization Intersex International (OII) questions a disease/disability approach, argues for deferral of intervention unless medically necessary, when fully informed consent of the individual involved is possible, and self-determination of sex/gender orientation and identity."
  • "To answer this question in an uncontroversial way, you'd have to first get everyone to agree on what counts as intersex – and also to agree on what should count as strictly male or female. That's hard to do." 
  • "How small does a penis have to be before it counts as intersex? Do you count 'sex chromosome' anomalies as intersex if there's no apparent external sexual ambiguity? (Alice Dreger explores this question in greater depth in her book Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex.)"
  • "Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female: one in 100 births"
  • "Total number of people receiving surgery to "normalize" genital appearance: one or two in 1,000 births"

Defining Intersex: 


  • "'Intersex' is congenital difference in anatomical sex. That is, physical differences in reproductive parts like the testicles, penis, vulva, clitoris, ovaries and so on. Intersex is also physical differences in secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, hair distribution, breast development and stature."

- Organization Intersex International (OII)


  • “'Intersex' is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male... Intersex is a socially constructed category that reflects real biological variation."

Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) (closed as of June 2008) 


  • "Intersex is a set of medical conditions that feature congenital anomalies of the reproductive and sexual system. That is, intersex people are born with 'sex chromosomes,' external genitalia, or internal reproductive systems that are not considered 'standard' for either male or female."

​- UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center


Further Considerations:
































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Protecting Intersex, Genderqueer, and other non-binary persons' right to self identify