Intersex (Father AND Mother)?


Sorry if this question has been asked before, but I was unable to search the message board (Permission denied sort of thing). I was recently watching a documentary on people with “intersex” conditions (ambiguous gender). After some googling I was interested to note that some of these individuals have both male and female gonads, a condition referred to as “true-hermaphroditism” in some medical literature. (Please note that I am aware that the term “hermaphrodite” can be offensive, and this is not my intent).

Mrs Puff read in a magazine of a case where one of these individuals both fathered and gave birth to a child. Now, I don’t believe anything written in a magazine on general principles, but it got me thinking; is such a thing possible? Has there ever been a documented case? From my research, it seems highly unlikely as most (if not all) genders are surgically assigned in the advent of ambiguity. Still, I ask the members of the Straight Dope message board to eludicate this issue.

Puff (as in the Dragon, not the cough artist)

Most of the time, “intersexed” doesn’t mean being 50/50 with one gonad of each sort (there’s more info on the different types and ways someone can be IS here: | Gender Identity Disorder Information ). Of course, for a small number of intersexed people, they do have one testis and one ovary, but that doesn’t mean they are fertile.

Such an individual, in order to have a baby, would have to have a working testis and sperm production system (when most intersexed people’s testes are undescended, which keeps them too warm for proper sperm production). They would also, at the same time, have to have an ovary capable of maturing an egg AND a uterus to keep it in AND have their hormones balanced enough to have regular menstrual cycles. While producing sperm.

It might just barely be possible for a person with non-reproductively-functional parts as listed above to go through some sort of medical intervention as an adult, where they would first have help balancing their hormones to produce sperm, then store it and try to manipulate their body into being reproductively functional as a female (menstruating, ovulating, and able to carry a child to term). In order to do this, one would need a doctor’s assistance.

Actually, I would imagine that one would need TWO doctors’ assistance (one for each part, neither knowing about the other), as I can’t imagine any M.D. in his or her right mind would assist someone in impregnating themselves, any more than they would use a woman’s brother’s sperm and her own egg to make her pregnant. (There are plenty of cases where a woman uses a donor egg and her brother’s sperm to make a child who is genetically related to her.)

Most medical personnel who are involved with intersexed people are interested in helping them reach a gender and sexual identity with which they are comfortable, whether that is (for the traditionalists) helping them move toward being male, or female, or (for some more radical types) being androgynous or mixed-sex. I can’t think of anyone… ok, fetish porn magazines aside, I can’t think of any REPUTABLE authority who would recommend swinging one’s sexual identity back and forth from “male capable of fathering” to “female capable of mothering” on a whim.

Are you sure, by the way, that the “article” wasn’t a (misremembered) reprint of a short story by Heinlein, “All You Zombies”?

The article in question referenced an individual who had initially lived life as a male, fathered a child, and later undergone transgender surgery and given birth. I’m not suggesting that the individual impregnated themselves, simply asking the question “is this possible?”. I do not have access to the original article, and well suspect this to be impossible.


Regarding the part of your post about assigning the gender that is most comfortable to the person, I believe I read that there is something of a movement away from that as well. It seems the surgery is far from perfect and many patients have been left maimed or in pain. I saw a program on the subject and as I recall, many wished they’d just been left alone to be who they were at birth.

My WAG would be that the scenario described (even as modified to indicate providing sperm to one child and egg to a later child) seems unlikely, but I could not claim that it is impossible.

However, there are some links in the current Great Debate, Intersexuals - Should they be forced to conform?, that has several links to both support groups and medical groups from which you might be able to find more factual information.