Should hermaphrodites recieve legal status.

Hey guys! Just joined. I’m 24 and I live in Texas (yee haw!) Been a lurker here for a quite a while and I really enjoy some of the discussions y’all have here.

Anyway, here is a question that has bugged me since I was 11: “Should people who are BORN with sexual reproductive organs from both genders (hermaphrodites) receives legal status?” I mean, on almost every legal form it asked if a person is “male or female”. What if they are both? Shouldn’t there be an option for them? LOL

I’ve heard that only 1-1000 people (I personally think that number is a little high and it’s actually more like 1-10.000) are born with organs from both sexes, but that still means there are several thousand of them living in the US alone. Why can’t they have an option on job applications, tax forms, credit application, etc. Isn’t it discrimination to exclude them?

Again, I am talking about people who were actually BORN with this “condition”. I am not talking about men trapped in women’s bodies, cross dressers, etc.

So what do y’all think…

Welcome. This is an IMHO question (or possibly GD), so I’ll report it for a move.

Hermaphroditism isn’t just one condition. “Intersex” is a related term. There are numerous causes. Hormonal certainly, then there’s people with chromosomal abnormalities but those are usually easily identifiable as a certain gender. I don’t know how existing people do this; many get surgery towards the gender they identify with more, some don’t. Also most don’t literally have both genitals but that they are ambiguous, e.g. shallow vagina and enlarged clitoris.

The trouble is that there is not just one option here. There are many ways people can be intersex, and some may appear much more male than female or more female than male, and may self identify as one particular sex (or may not) despite having some characteristics of the other. Some may have had treatment such as operations to make them conform to one gender rather than another, or be planning to do so. There is not just one condition of being hermaphrodite, but many (and thus each type is very rare indeed, sometimes even possibly unique).

Reported for forum change.

ETA: And ninjaed! :rolleyes:

If they’re intersex, are they ninoichi or kunoja?

sorry about posting in the wrong forum. Thanks you both for your insight. It was quite educational.

I’m not a doctor or a biologist, so my knowledge on the subject is admittedly limited. But let’s say you have a person who is clearly born with reproductive organs from both genders and that they for, whatever reason (maybe financial?), do not undergo surgery to correct their… condition, the person in question would neither be male nor female… correct? So how would they answer the question regarding gender?

No. Biologically, the person would be both male and female. Legally, the person would be whatever it said on the birth certificate.

Here’s an article you may find interesting. New Jersey has a bill which “would allow the state’s health department to issue new birth certificates to intersex or trans people who have not undergone gender reassignment surgery.”

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, TexanCountryboy.

The General Questions forum is for questions with factual answers. This is more of an opinion/debate sort of thing, and those go in either IMHO or Great Debates. It’s no biggie. I’ll just move the thread for you.

I don’t see enough of a debate here yet to justify moving it to GD, so let’s put it in IMHO for now. Depending on how the thread progresses it may end up in GD later.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

It’s not that simple as just adding a third option. There are plenty of intersex people who nevertheless identify with bimodal gender. And this seems to be backed up medically, as, when they take medicine to increase the hormones of the gender they identify with and decrease the effects of the hormones of the gender they don’t, they get both physically and mentally healthier. (And, no, this doesn’t necessarily match with their chromosomal sex–e.g XX and XY.)

But the general idea of having other options is not a bad one. Even cis-gendered (opposite of trans-gendered) might do well to have more choices in gender. There are plenty of men who have various traditionally feminine characteristics, vice versa.

Yes, there should, as the current means of dealing with them isn’t great and often causes them further problems. Also, “hermaphrodite” is now considered inaccurate and even offensive. The preferred term is “intersex” as it lacks much of the baggage that comes with the older term.

The Intersex Society of North America has this FAQ which I think you will find both educational and useful. In particular, you might want to read the entries under intersex conditions to get a better idea of what sorts of variations fall under that term.

At the 1 in 1000 rate that means about 300,000 intersex people in the US at present. You probably know a couple, you just don’t know that you do as it’s a condition that is often concealed from others.

Literally having organs from both sexes is extremely rare, more common are situations where the genitals are ambiguous, or the hormones unusual. The ISNA FAQ covers this in more detail.

Well, currently the option is that they pick one gender or the other and stick to it for legal purposes.

There is actually IS a subset of transgender people who fall into that category. Not all of them, but one of the more well known is Caroline Cossey.

I should emphasize that this is only a subset of transgender people, but because of societal obsession with assigning gender at birth doctors sometimes guess wrong when the baby has some characteristics of both genders.

There have been a few threads over the years here on related topics, including occasional ones by intersex posters, that you might want to check out.

I agree with Broomstick above, but I have a genuine question for the OP, which is…

…why “LOL”?

I’m a bit confused on this one. What do you mean by characteristics? I’m not sure how they would not still be male or female (from a physical, medical and legal perspective), absent an intersex or transgendered situation.

I think he’s referring to people who are genderqueer.

Hmm, from a reading there I still don’t really see how there is a rationale for ‘other’ options when it comes to legal gender status.

Sometimes things take me a while, understanding that there were legitimately bisexual people took me a while, getting the idea of being transgendered took some time. I’m not yet prepared for neither, both or none of the above as gender options. I may or may not get there, but ready to at least try the journey. Sorry if this is getting off topic from the OP.

How are they being discriminated against when filling out a form? I would think that the lack of information would result in the individual being less likely discriminated against.

Broomstick, thank you for the insight and the link. Very informative.

So are you saying that we should add an option for “intersex” so that people of both genders are not excluded?

I find it interesting that we’ve completely deprecated race as a point of individual identification, to the point where it is charged and prickly to ask it even in relevant circumstances (medical history, criminal descriptions etc.) …while a tiny minority is agitating for detailed options to describe their physical and mental gender. Call it “You Didn’t Ask, But I Insist On Telling You.”

How exactly would five or ten or more gender categories improve either the lives who check boxes 3-*n *or the clerks who manage the record?

Nothing useful to add. Just wanted to say it’s a good question.

At this point in time, I think LOL counts as punctuation.

:smiley: my hero

But honestly, y’all have been really informative. I never knew that the intersex condition was so diverse. I always assured that that almost every case had organs from both sexes.

True hermaphrodites - that is, people with complete sets of fully functional genitalia from both sexes - are very very rare, if not entirely impossible. There is one bit of fetal tissue that develops into the genitals, and it’s the same bit in both males and females. So to get a true hermaphrodite, you need to do some incredibly funky stuff to get two of these bits in the same fetus, and then stimulate them differently.