In the Bisexuality topic on this forum, I made a reference to my intergendered primary partner. Then someone asked what "intergendered" was -- so I decided to start a new topic for it as a separate issue.
Intergender, as that person guessed, means literally "being between genders" and "intersex" means being between sexes.
Clear as mud, I know. Read on!
"Intersex" is a word used by the medical establishment to mean a person who is born with sex chromosomes, hormones, or genitals that are not "textbook" male or female. In other words, in some biological way, people who are intersexed are not males or females.
This can happen in a lot of different ways, and I'll just give a brief rundown here (it is a vastly complicated topic, medically).
Chromosomal intersex: there are many possible types of sex chromosomes a human being can have, but only two of them, XX (female) and XY (male) are recognized as being "normal." As early as the late 1950's, though, doctors knew that there were at least three other commonly-occurring possibilities (and quite a few rare ones) that were neither XX or XY sex chromosomes. These include XXX (Turner's syndrome), XXY (Klinefelter's Syndrome), and XO. Each of these types of sex chromosome arrangements leads to certain characteristic possibilities in terms of people's physical sexual and hormonal development.
Hormonal intersex: If an individual's body is not sensitive to specific sex hormones, their physical and hormonal sexual development may be very different from a person with standard hormone sensitivity. These differences in hormone sensitivity usually start before a baby is born. Doctors do not really know what causes them to happen.
Physical intersex: Genitals and gonads can come in all sorts of interesting configurations, sometimes independently of hormonal or chromosomal difference, and sometimes in tandem with hormonal/chromosomal difference. Babies are born (actually fairly frequently) with genitals that do not match the "ideal" shapes and sizes and positioning of so-called "normal" male and female genitals. Most often, doctors will attempt to "correct" unusual-looking genitals very soon after the baby is born, a practice that has become very controversial as it often involves performing surgery on healthy organs that only *look* unusual.
These three main types of intersex condition can occur singly or together. My partner is a Klinefelter's person (XXY sex chromosomes). You can read more about Klinefelter's, and about my partner, in an article we wrote here: http://www.scarleteen.com/boyfriend/gender.html
Intergender, on the other hand, is more about how you think about your own sex and sexual identity (NOT orientation) than it is about your body or biology. Sex = male or female, biological. Gender = masculine or feminine, cultural. (see the article I mentioned for more detail).
Not all intergender people are intersex. Some intergender people are intergender for political reasons, or for reasons of personal emotional comfort.
Intergender people tend not to identify as either masculine or feminine, not thinking of themselves as men or as women, but as people who have a non-binary gender. Different intergender people have different terms for their own gender status -- or they may not have a specific term for their gender status at all. Some people use "androgynous" to talk about one flavor of intergender.
My partner identifies eir gender as "spivak," rather than using "man" or "woman," "masculine" or "feminine." E also prefers to use non-gendered pronouns, which is why you see me using "E" and "eir" in this paragraph instead of "his" or "her" and "he" or "she."
If you all have questions about this, I'll be happy to try to answer. I can also see if I can get my partner to come and answer some questions, too.
Just thought I'd chime in. I'm Hanne's partner, and have promised to try to be around here enough to respond to questions about intergender, intersex, transgender and transsexual issues whenever possible.
If you'd rather ask questions in private, I can do that too. The e-mail address I'm registered as should get you a reasonably quick answer to any private questions that you care to ask.
Thank you for asking, listening and thinking. It's obvious to me that you all seem to be putting effort into this discussion, and I appreciate that.
*raises hand* I have a few questions! And if you don't want to answer any of them I totally understand. First of all, Hanne, which chromosones do you have? Or are you also Intergender/Intersex. Next question... Malcolm, is there a sex that you identify more with? Like...do you dress as a male or female or both? And my last question...do you usually date men or women or both?
Like I said, you can answer any that you like, and ignore the rest...
------------------ Dude, just smile and pass the zen margaritas...
Well, I can only speak for myself, so Malcolm will answer when e has a chance...
I am not intersex or intergender. I'm chromosomally XX, have fairly typical textbook-female genitals and gonads. I also identify, gender-wise, as a woman, and consider myself a femme in terms of how I "wear" my gender.
Femme is about choosing to dress and act in ways that are more or less what society considers to be on the "feminine" end of the spectrum. Women can and do identify as women, but not as femme -- there are plenty of butch women, and plenty of women who don't really think or care much about how they "wear" their gender.
I am also, as most of you guys probably know already, bisexual. That means that I have the ability to be attracted emotionally and/or sexually to people of more than one sex or gender.
I should note that intergender and intersex people are *not* by definition bisexual, any more than binary-gendered people are. Many intersex/intergender folks are basically only attracted to one sex, just as many binary-gendered people are.
I'll answer the direct questions first, then maybe elaborate if it makes sense.
Let's see, which gender do I identify more with? That's a really good question, and it doesn't have an easy answer.
I was raised and knew myself only as a man until I was 19, when my Klinefelter's Syndrome was finally diagnosed (I can write more about why it was diagnosed then if you're interested).
At the same time, my parental upbringing was nothing like anyone would call 'normal'. My Mom, a strong socialist feminist, raised me with a strongly idealistic, egalitarian viewpoint, and my Dad was pretty politically neutral but always supportive, both of me personally, and of my Mom's ideals.
Also I've had chronic asthma since I was a tyke, and it interfered with me playing regular boys' games. I was always last picked, and was never very 'manly' or even athletic.
So though I was raised a boy, and became a man, I was never really a physicially manly man, in the traditional sense. And _definitely_not_ just because of my intersexual genotype.
Since finding out about my Klinefelter's Syndrome, I have experimented a _lot_ with gender expression.
I've been messing around with things like clothing, makeup, how I behave, how long my hair is, and even things as subtle as what I'll admit to knowing (like that I know the difference between magenta and fuschia, which can be very stereotypically feminine, according to some people, or that I know how to do electrical and telephone wiring in a house, which can be stereotypically masculine).
As for who I'm attracted to, that's pretty much still working itself out. Ideally, I'd like to not have certain types of people I like, and just take people as they come, for who they are and what they are, without prejudice. For that reason, I identify, politically, as bisexual.
In reality, I get crushes on all kinds of people, men, women, transsexuals, whatever you can imagine, and it seems to depend more on the _individuals_, not their gender or biological sex.
But who I date, has been almost exclusively women, with only a few exceptions.
I know that wasn't easy to get through (this just took me several hours over the day to write), but I hope it helps.
Thanks for asking the question and being interested.
------------------ Wisdom comes from being human. email@example.com
[This message has been edited by Malcolm (edited September 20, 2000).]
[This message has been edited by Malcolm (edited September 20, 2000).]
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