Sex

Sex, as it is used here, is not simply what happens between the sheets, or over the kitchen counter. As a biological concept, sex refers to your biological make up (i.e. your XX or XY chromosomes, hormonal composition, external genitalia, internal genitalia, gonads, and secondary sex characteristics) which indicates whether you are identified as male or female.

These aspects are generally present from birth and become more pronounced as you get older. In very simple terms, your sex refers to what you have in your pants!

These initial notions of being either a biological male or female are challenged by the term intersex (sometimes called the third sex). The term intersex refers to a set of medical diagnoses that feature “congenital variance of the reproductive and sexual system.” Intersex people are born with chromosomes, external genitalia, and/or internal reproductive systems that are not considered “typical” for either the male (penis, testes, XY chromosomes) or female (ovaries, vagina, uterus, XX chromosomes) sex.  Intersex is a fairly common occurrence. It is estimated that 1 in 2000 babies are born “obviously” intersex. This number does not include the high number of people who are diagnosed as intersex later in life. Intersex people's bodies have historically been, and continue to be, viewed as "social emergencies" by doctors. When discovered at birth in most Westernised countries, unnecessary cosmetic surgery is often performed on the majority of intersex babies, to ensure that they conform to either male or female aesthetic binary standards (obviously, an infant cannot consent to having surgery). These surgeries often require multiple follow-up repair surgeries and are ridden with complications. Adult intersex people are often haunted by a lifetime of these traumatic procedures, robbing them of sexual sensations, and denying them the need to feel present and safe in their own bodies.

It is very important not to confuse the term intersex (a biological concept) with being transgender (a gender identity concept), being gay (a sexual orientation), or expressing transvestic fetish (a behaviour/practice), some of which will be discussed in more detail below.

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