Many people who are intersex (or have DSD), feel that they are not fully recognised, or supported in society. Likewise, many people feel that they don’t know enough about being intersex, to offer the right recognition or support. Read below for some the most common questions. For more information on what it means to be intersex, head here.
How does being intersex happen? Is it rare?
Being born with intersex traits is something that happens naturally, as a foetus is developing into a baby, in the womb. Around 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits.
Is being intersex the same as being trans or non-binary?
Being intersex is not the same as being trans or non-binary. Being trans or non-binary is about how someone identifies themselves, and how they express their gender, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. Their gender identity is not linked to their body or genitals, but how they feel about themselves, instead. Being intersex is different, because it is about a person’s body and biological sex characteristics, such as genitals, hormones and organs, when they are born. These may not fit into what is expected of a male or female body/biology. It is physical, and to do with biological sex (genitals, body parts, hormones and organs.) It is not about how somebody identifies, or feels about their gender identity. Remember: just like anybody else, intersex people have the right to identify however they choose.
Does being intersex mean you are gay?
Sexuality is about who a person is attracted to and/or falls in love with. It is not to do with somebodies assigned sex at birth, gender identity, or what genitals they have! Some intersex people may be gay, but others aren’t. Sexuality is personal to everyone, it can change throughout people’s lives, and lots of people don’t feel like they need to label their sexuality at all. Find different sexualities here.
Is being intersex dangerous to your health and body?
Being intersex (or having DSD) is different for everyone. Some people will need to take medication throughout their lives to keep them healthy and well, and some people will have surgery. Some people may choose to have surgery, because they want to, rather than a medical need. Being intersex often causes no harm to somebodies health, and need no medical procedures to keep somebody healthy and well.
What do people think about surgery when someone is born?
Lots of people believe that, when there is no medical need, people who are born intersex should not be made to have surgery, or have surgery performed when they are born. They argue that, if somebody can live a healthy life, why do they need surgery/medicine, just so their bodies fit into a category that society thinks is “normal”. There is no “normal”!
Are intersex people part of the LGBT+ community?
Being intersex isn’t about somebody’s sexuality or how they identify, so some intersex people feel that they have different perspectives and don’t fit within the LGBT+ community.
However, LGBT+ encompasses Intersex people, and most intersex people feel welcomed by the community, and are grateful for the support, advice and understanding this brings.
How can we support, and represent, being intersex?
Try to be inclusive and supportive to everyone Our website has some fantastic tips about being an ally, using pronouns, and being inclusive at school/college/uni or work. This will help everyone, intersex people included! Report hate crime and discrimination The Equality Act protects everyone from discrimination, because of who they are. Find more information about your rights, hate crimes, and how to report them on our website. Support mental health If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with their mental health, whether this is linked to their experience of being intersex or not, there is always support. Mind is a great national mental health charity and can offer advice and support. Switchboard is a wonderful LGBT+ support service, who are there to talk to, with a phone line and web chat feature too.
Remember: there is no such thing as “normal”
Remember – everybody is unique, and there is no such thing as a “normal” or “perfect” body. What we see in the media, entertainment or the internet is a really narrow view, and often complete fantasy. There is nothing “wrong” with somebody who doesn’t fit into what society thinks everybody should: nobody does!