Intergender vs Intersexual (a comprehensive guide)

In this blog post, we clarify the differences and the meaning of intergender and intersexual.

We also explain what gender identity and expression are and what is intersexuality.

What does it mean to be intergender?

Intergender is a type of sexual identity, which essentially describes a person who identifies somewhere between the female and male genders, or even with both genders in some cases.

Intergender people often express themselves as being transgender, genderqueer, or part of the non-binary identity. They can also have any sexual orientation or gender expression. 

There are two parts to our sexes. Gender identity is the way you identify, whether as a man, a woman, or something else entirely.

Gender expression is the way you express yourself and present yourself in terms of masculinity and femininity.

Non-binary tends to be used as more of a catchall for people who do not identify with the binary categories of male and female.

Genderqueer often describes a special experience under this umbrella, which may include the feeling that a person’s sex is fluid.

But for a long time, the genderqueer identity was open to all those which did not “define” the term gender.

This means that anyone who does things that are outside the norm of their gender identity is real or perceived.

The word transgender (or trans) is a general term for those whose gender identity and expression differ from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them than at birth (for example, on the birth certificate).

The word cisgender (or cis) is a term used to describe people whose gender identity and expression aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.

What are gender identity and expression?

Gender identity refers to the innate and deep psychological identification of a person as male, female, or some other gender.

The expression of gender refers to the external manifestation of gender identity, which may or may not be adjusted to the behaviours and characteristics socially defined or associated with being male or female.

Transition is a process by which some transgender people begin to live their lives in the gender with which they identify rather than the sex assigned to them at birth.

This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, and other medical procedures.

How do I know which pronouns to use?

Intergender people should identify with their preferred pronoun. Often this pronoun corresponds to the gender with which they identify. It is appropriate to ask for the preferred name and pronouns.

Some intergender people do not believe in binary gender and prefer not to use pronouns associated with men (he) or women (she); instead, they prefer that people simply use their names or that they use genderless pronouns like “their” or “they.”

What is intersexuality?

Being intersex has to do with sexual characteristics at birth. Intersex people are born, beyond the surgeries to which a person is subjected.

It does not have to do with an identity: a person can be intersexual without ever expressing it to anyone; you can even live a lifetime and die without knowing that you were born intersexual. 

Being a subject that is still under heavy medical scrutiny, being intersexual is mistakenly thought to be synonymous with pathology, disease.

And since sex is such a transcendent issue in a person’s life, society still tends to think that it is a physical defect that makes it impossible for the person to function “normally” in life.

I do not intend to give an exhaustive definition here about being intersexuals, or about what intersexuality means.

I could list a series of syndromes and characteristics typically associated with intersexuality from the medical institution, but it is not the best way to approach the subject. 

The way in which intersexuality is viewed from the perspective of who does not depend on their conception of the body, sexuality and gender identity of the human being.

Like many other things, it is a matter of social expectations. In this case, and as far as our time is concerned, these are expectations based on medical assessments dating back to the 19th century. 

But also the medical gaze is evolving. It can be anticipated that social expectation will also change over time, although it will be slow, like any social process.

What is more important: it is not about pathologies or physical defects; There is no medical basis to support these beliefs.

Being intersexual is not a health problem. In any case, it is a problem of what society expects from the process of sexual differentiation

And as such, it must be resolved in society and with society, not through unnecessary, irreversible and non-consensual surgical interventions or medical treatments, practised on a person who, due to his tender age, has no ability to defend himself or to intervene your will about it.

What is Intersexuality?

Intersexuality is a term that is generally used for a variety of body situations, in which a person is born with sexual characteristics (genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, chromosomal patterns) that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. 

  • For example, a person can be born with genital forms typically of a woman, but inside they can have testicles. 
  • Or a person may be born with genitalia that appears to be in an intermediate state between typical male and female genitalia – for example, a baby may be born with a longer-than-average clitoris, or lack a vaginal opening, or have a common duct where the urethra and the vagina open;
  • Or it can be born with a phallus that is considered smaller than the average male organ, or with a scrotum that is divided in a way that more closely resembles vaginal lips. 
  • Or a person can be born with a genetic composition called “mosaic”, that is, some cells have XX chromosomes and others have XY, or their chromosomes are XXY or X0. 

Thus, in people with intersex variations, innate sexual characteristics appear to be male and female at the same time, or not entirely male or female, or neither male nor female.

This variability in body composition is something that is not always evident at birth.

Sometimes, a person does not discover that they have intersexual anatomy, until puberty when the expected body changes for a typical woman or man do not occur.

Some people live and die with intersexual anatomy without anyone (not themselves) knowing.

If we define intersexuality basically as a variation in shapes and body composition, we can affirm that intersex itself is not a pathology and is definitely not a malformation, because genital forms depend on testosterone during pregnancy, all fetuses whether XX or XY at some point in gestation have the same genital shapes. 

When a fetus is exposed to “low” levels of testosterone, it remains with typically female genitalia; On the other hand, if the fetus is exposed to higher levels of testosterone, its genitals will take on — to put it somehow — masculine appearance. 

When in this process they remain in an intermediate state, the doctors speak of the babies “being born with ambiguous genitalia”.

Obviously, nothing has been formed badly, but part of a natural process that depends on testosterone levels, just that.

Thus, the diverse sexual characteristics in themselves do not represent a health problem.

But it does happen that these bodily variations can be associated with conditions that require specific medical attention due, for example, to metabolic imbalances, which have nothing to do with diverse sexual characteristics. 

In fact, any of the bodily forms, whether they are typically feminine, masculine, or any of the various variations in sexual characteristics, according to their anatomy, have a certain tendency towards health complications.

Therefore, having a typically female, male, or intersex physicality does not immediately lead to disease or health conditions.

Intersexuality is a natural variation in human beings. More than 1 in 150 people is born intersex.

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Conclusions

In this blog post, we clarified the differences and the meaning of intergender and intersexual.

We also explained what gender identity and expression are and what is intersexuality.

Intergender is a type of sexual identity, which essentially describes a person who identifies somewhere between the female and male genders, or even with both genders in some cases.

Intersexuality is a term that is generally used for a variety of body situations, in which a person is born with sexual characteristics (genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, chromosomal patterns) that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. 

If you have further questions, comments or recommendations, please let us know!

FAQ about Intergender

What does Intergender mean?

Intergender is a type of sexual identity, which essentially describes a person who identifies somewhere between the female and male genders, or even with both genders in some cases.

What is an intersex person?

Intersex is a term that is generally used for a variety of body situations, in which a person is born with sexual characteristics (genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, chromosomal patterns) that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. 

What is the difference between intersex and hermaphrodite?

The difference between intersex and hermaphrodite is that a hermaphrodite is both fully male and female, why intersex people do not seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. 

How do I know if I am intersex?

There a few signs that you can look for in order to know if you are intersex: 

– You may have micropenis or clitoromegaly

– Apparently undescended testes (which may turn out to be ovaries) in boys.

– Labial or inguinal (groin) masses (which may turn out to be testes) in girls.

– Ambiguous genitalia at birth.

Do intersex males have periods?

Some intersex males have periods if they have a functioning menstruating womb, while their external sexual organs are male.

But this very rare, and the general answer would be no, intersex males do not have periods.

Is Turner syndrome an intersex condition?

Yes, Turner syndrome, along with Klinefelter syndrome are considered intersex conditions. 

Further reading

Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality, by  Jerrold S. Greenberg

Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy: Ethnicities, Sexualities, and Socioeconomics, by Shalonda Kelly

Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, & Sexuality (B&b Sociology) by David Newman 

Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger 

What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues

Relationship counselling

  • If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.

LGBTQ issues

If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.

References

Genderqueerid.com

nonbinary.wiki/

National Center for Transgender Equality y Fenway Health

isna.org

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