Hermaphrodite

A hermaphrodite is a person whose body cannot be clearly assigned to one of the two sexes. The body is therefore neither undoubtedly female nor male. In rare cases, people can be born with sexual characteristics of both sexes. This mixture can affect the chromosome pattern, the gonads and/or the genitals. Turner syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome are the most common chromosomal abnormalities that lead to intersexuality. Affected individuals have three sex-determining chromosomes instead of the usual two. Deviant sex characteristics may be evident from birth through the presence of physically ambiguous genitalia. For example, there are cases where a penis and a vagina are present. Atypical chromosomes or ambiguous internal reproductive organs, on the other hand, can remain unnoticed throughout life. At birth, the child's sex is usually assigned according to anatomical characteristics. Only in one out of about 5,000 births can the sex not be clearly assigned. In Germany, the new gender designation divers have been available for these cases since 2018. The correct medical, non-pejorative term for this phenomenon is intersexuality, or intersexuality. Many intersex people are sterile (infertile), but some can also conceive or give birth to children. Individuals can even produce both eggs and sperm and theoretically self-fertilise, although there is no documented case of self-fertilization in humans.

Intersexual humans were already known in ancient cultures. The body of the Greek mythical figure Hermaphroditos was a mixture of the body of a man and that of a woman. Hermaphroditism is still the term used today to describe bisexuality in species with bisexual individuals, which occurs especially in many plants. Hermaphroditism in humans is pseudohermaphroditism because hermaphroditism does not correspond to normality. By the way, intersexuality should not be confused with transsexuality. In transsexuality, the sexual characteristics are usually clearly assigned to one of the two sexes, only the perceived gender identity corresponds to the respective other sex. With intersexuality, on the other hand, anatomical deviations are always present. In some parts of the world, intersexual children used to be killed or abandoned after birth. Intersex people are also often stigmatized and discriminated against after the discovery of intersex characteristics. The word hermaphrodite is sometimes used as a swear word. Even today, children with ambiguous external genitalia are surgically or hormonally altered to create socially accepted gender characteristics. This is now viewed critically in Germany, and it is recommended to wait until the sexual identity of the intersexual person develops during puberty. In this way, the right to self-determination and integrity of the body is also preserved for intersexual people.

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