Laying this one to rest

The topic of intersex is still being debated as though it’s really a thing for human beings to be born neither male nor female, but instead some type of third sex. That’s factually incorrect. Let’s take a look at the science, shall we.

I really hate doing this, and I hate that feminists are reduced to doing this because I don’t want to drag intersex people through the mud in order to prove a point. But I think it’s time we laid it to rest.

There is a problem with the word “intersex”. I don’t know who coined this word but it suggests that people born with this condition lay on some continuum between the sexes. Or that they are both male and female. Or that they are neither male or female.

Every human being is born one or the other. Firmly in one box or the other.


First let’s take a look at an example of the males who for whatever reason are actually assigned female at birth. Well, they say “at birth” but because doctors are obsessed with looking into the womb, it’s more likely that they see a lack of penis and assume the foetus is female before the baby is born. One condition is CAIS, or PAIS.

Their condition is called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS), male foetuses that respond weakly to androgens and develop inadequate or ambiguous external genItalia Parital Androgen Sensitivity Syndrome (PAIS). CAIS babies are usually assumed to actually be female until investigation in later life reveals that they lack a female reproductive system; PAIS babies are usually surgically castrated, their undescended testicles and defective penis removed, and thus made “female”.

“But AIS babies have neither womb nor ovaries; XX women are almost always born with both. What is more XX females do respond to testosterone. What the CAIS babies are is not female but feminine, more feminine in truth than XX women because they have no body hair whatsoever. Letters sent to me by AIS individuals boast that if they and I were standing naked side by side passers by would have no doubt who was the more feminine. I don’t doubt it. The indubitable femininity of sleek-bodied AIS females proves as nothing else could that femininity has nothing to do with sex.Men can do femininity better than women can, because femaleness conflicts with femininity as maleness does not/ (Germaine Greer, 1999)


Turner syndrome is an example of females with intersex condition. Turner syndrome people are genetically female. Turner syndrome (TS) also known as 45, X, is a condition in which a female is partly or completely missing an X chromosome.

The reason we know Turner syndrome people who survive birth are female is because if a male foetus is missing an X it cannot survive. Because females have two X chromosomes, when one is missing they can still survive. You cannot live with one Y chromosome alone- because the Y is parasitic. Because the X is not parasitic, the females with this syndrome survive.


No matter what the particular condition the individual has, it is clear that they are either male or female.

Here’s a list of intersex conditions- in each case the condition is:

  • 48, XXXX (also known as tetrasomy X, quadruple X, and XXXX syndrome) – A condition that describes a female with two extra female chromosomes. It is considered a variation of Triple X syndrome. Women with 48, XXXX may or may not have issues associated with the condition though most are developmentally delayed and only about 50% undergo puberty normally.

  • 48, XXYY (also known as XXYY syndrome) – A condition that describes a male with one extra female chromosome and one extra male chromosome. It occurs in 1 in 18,000 to 40,000 male births.[10]48, XXYY may result in infertility, low testosterone, and neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD or autism but some men have no issues.

  • 49, XXXXX (also known as pentasomy X and XXXXX syndrome) – A condition that describes a female with three extra female chromosomes. It is considered a variant of Triple X syndrome. Women with 49, XXXXX usually suffer from numerous health issues such as patent ductus arteriosus, scoliosis, kidney hypoplasia, and abnormal lobulation of the lungs. Physical deformities include microcephaly, micrognathia, and webbing of the neck.

  • 49, XXXXY – A condition that describes a male with three extra female chromosomes. It is rare, occurring in 1 in 85,000 to 100,000 males.[11][12] It is considered a variation of Klinefelter syndrome. Men with 49, XXXXY syndrome often suffer from mental retardation.

  • 5α-reductase deficiency (also known as 5-ARD) – An autosomal recessive condition caused by a mutation of the 5-alpha reductase type 2 gene. It only affects people with Y chromosomes, namely genetic males. People with this condition are fertile, with the ability to father children, but may be raised as females due to amibiguous or feminized genitalia.

  • 17β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency – A condition characterized by impaired androgen and estrogen synthesis in males and females, respectively. Results in pseudohermaphroditism/undervirilization in males and in excessive virilization of adult females.

  • Androgen insensitivity syndrome (also known as AIS) – A condition which affects a genetic male’s virilization. A person with androgen insensitivity syndrome produces androgens and testosterone but their body does not recognize it, either partially or completely. Mild androgen insensitivity syndrome generally causes no developmental issues and people with this form are raised as males. Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome results in ambiguous genitalia and there is no consensus regarding whether to raise a child with this form as male or female. Complete androgen insensitivity syndromecauses a genetic male to have a vagina (often incompletely developed, nearly always blind-ending), breasts, and a clitoris and people with this form are raised as females.

  • Aphallia – A rare occurrence where a male is born without a penis or where a female is born without a clitoris. As of 2005, only 75 cases of aphallia have been documented.[13] It should not be confused with intentional or accidental amputation of the genitalia.

  • Aposthia – A congenital defect where a male is born without a foreskin.

  • Aromatase deficiency – A disorder in which, in females, is characterized by androgen excess and estrogen deficiency, and can result in inappropriate virilization, though without pseudohermaphroditism (i.e., genitals are phenotypically appropriate) (with the exception of the possible incidence of clitoromegaly).

  • Aromatase excess syndrome (also known as familial hyperestrogenism) – A condition that causes excessive estrogen production, resulting in feminization without pseudohermaphroditism (i.e., male genitalia at birth and female secondary sexual characteristics at puberty) in males and hyperfeminization in females.

  • Clitoromegaly – A clitoris that is considered larger than average. While clitoromegaly may be a symptom of an intersex condition, it may also be considered a normal variation in clitoris size. Clitoromegaly causes no health issues. Surgical reduction of the clitoris or its complete removal may be performed to normalize the appearance of the genitalia. While female genital mutilation is outlawed in many countries, reduction or the removal of the clitoris in cases of clitoromegaly are generally exempt, despite the fact that it is a nontherapeutic and sexually damaging surgery. Clitoromegaly may also be caused by females using testosterone or anabolic steroids for purposes related to female to male gender transition or bodybuilding.

  • Combined 17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase deficiency – A condition in which presents as a combination of the symptoms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia and isolated 17,20-lyase deficiency. See those two conditions for more information.

  • Complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (also known as CAIS) – A condition which completely affects a genetic male’s ability to recognize androgens. It is considered a form of androgen insensitivity syndrome and is the most severe form. People with complete androgen insensitivity are raised as females and usually do not discover they are genetic males until they experience amenorrhoea in their late teens or they need medical intervention due to a hernia caused by their undescended testes. Complete androgen insensitivity syndrome results in a genetic male having a vagina, clitoris, and breasts which are capable of breastfeeding. However, they will not have ovaries or a uterus. Because they do not have ovaries or sufficiently developed testicles, people with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome are infertile.

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (also known as CAH) – A condition that causes excessive androgen production, which causes excessive virilization. It is most problematic in genetic females, where severe virilization can result in her having vaginal agenesis (absence of vagina) and a functional penis which is capable of penetrative intercourse. Females with this condition are usually fertile, with the ability to become pregnant and give birth. The salt-wasting variety of this condition is fatal in infants if left untreated.

  • Diphallia (also known as penile duplication, diphallic terata, and diphallasparatus) – A condition where a male is born with two penises. It’s extremely rare, with only 100 cases being recorded since 1609 and an occurrence rate of 1 in 5,500,000 in the United States. The penises may be side by side or one on top of the other, being of equal size or with one penis being distinctively larger than the other, and both penises may be suitable for urination and intercourse. Men with diphallia may be sterile.

  • Estrogen insensitivity syndrome (EIS) – The estrogen counterpart to androgen insensitivity syndrome. Extremely rare, with only one verified case having been reported; a biological male presented with tall stature, a heightened risk of osteoporosis, and sterility.

  • Gonadal Dysgenesis – is any congenital developmental disorder of the reproductive system characterized by a progressive loss of primordial germ cells on the developing gonads of an embryo.

  • Isolated 17,20-lyase deficiency – A condition that is characterized by an either partial or complete inability to produce androgens and estrogens. Results in partial or complete feminization and undervirilization in males and in a delayed, reduced, or absent puberty in both sexes, in turn causing sexual infantilism and infertility, among other symptoms.

  • Klinefelter syndrome (also known as 47, XXY and XXY syndrome) – A condition that describes a male born with at least one extra female chromosome. Though the most common variation is 47, XXY, a man may also be 48, XXXY or 49, XXXXY. It is a common occurrence, affecting 1 in 500 to 1,000 men.[14] While some men may have no issues related to the syndrome, some may experience gynecomastia, micropenis, cognitive difficulties, hypogonadism, reduced fertility/infertility, and/or little or no facial hair. Testosterone therapy may be pursued by men who desire a more masculine appearance and those with gynecomastia may opt to undergo a reduction mammoplasty. Men who wish to father children may be able to do so with the help of IVF.[15]

  • Leydig cell hypoplasia – A condition solely affecting biological males which is characterized by a partial or complete inactivation of the luteinizing hormone receptor, resulting in stymied androgen production. Patients may present at birth with a fully female phenotype, ambiguous genitalia, or only mild genital defects such as micropenis and hypospadias. Upon puberty, sexual development is either impaired or fully absent.

  • Micropenis (also known as microphallus) – A penis that measures 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) or less in length when erect. It is a common condition, occurring in 1 in 200 men.[16] Micropenis may be the result of undervirilization during fetal development or may be caused by an underlying intersex condition, such as mild androgen insensitivity syndrome, partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, or Klinefelter syndrome. It may also be considered a natural variation of penis size. While the majority of men have no issues with having a micropenis, some may opt to use a prosthetic penis or undergo penile enlargement to increase the size of their penis.

  • Lipoid congenital adrenal hyperplasia – An endocrine disorder that arises from defects in the earliest stages of steroid hormone synthesis: the transport of cholesterol into the mitochondria and the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone—the first step in the synthesis of all steroid hormones.

  • Mild androgen insensitivity syndrome (also known as MAIS) – A condition which mildly affects a genetic male’s ability to recognize androgens. It is considered a form of androgen insensitivity syndrome and is considered the least severe form. While men generally do not need any specialized medical care related to this form, mild androgen insensitivity syndrome may result in gynecomastiaand hypospadias. Neither gynecomastia nor hypospadias require surgerical intervention or adversely affect a man’s health though some men may opt to undergo surgery to remove their breasts and/or repair their hypospadias. Men with mild androgen insensitivity syndrome may have reduced fertility.

  • Mixed gonadal dysgenesis – is a condition of unusual and asymmetrical gonadal development leading to an unassigned sex differentiation. A number of differences have been reported in the karyotype, most commonly a mosaicism 45,X/ 46, XY.

  • Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (also known as PAIS) – A condition which partially affects a genetic male’s ability to recognize androgens. It is considered a form of androgen insensitivity syndrome and while it is not as severe as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, it is more severe than mild androgen insensitivity syndrome. Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome causes major problems with gender assignment because it causes ambiguous genitalia such as a micropenis or clitoromegaly in addition to breast development. People with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome who are assigned as males may undergo testosterone therapy to virilize their body while those who are assigned as females may undergo surgical reduction of the clitoris and/ or estrogen therapy.

  • Pseudovaginal perineoscrotal hypospadias (also known as PPSH) – A form of ambiguous genitalia which results in a phallic structure that is smaller than a penis but larger than a clitoris, a chordee, hypospadias, and a shallow vagina.

  • Swyer Syndrome (Also known as Pure Gonadal Dysgenesis or XY gonadal dysgenesis) is a type of hypogonadism in a person whose karyotype is 46,XY. The person is externally female with streak gonads, and left untreated, will not experience puberty. Such gonads are typically surgically removed (as they have a significant risk of developing tumors) and a typical medical treatment would include hormone replacement therapy with female hormones.

  • Triple X syndrome – A condition that describes a female born with an extra female chromosome, making her karotype 47, XXX. It is a common occurrence, affecting 1 in 1,000 females.[17] It generally causes no health issues or abnormal development.

  • Turner syndrome (also known as Ullrich-Turner syndrome and gonadal dysgenesis) – A condition that describes a female born without a female chromosome or with an abnormal female chromosome, making her karotype 45, XO. It occurs in 1 in 2,000 to 5,000 females. Turner syndrome causes numerous health and development problems, including but not limited to short stature, lymphedema, infertility, webbed neck, coarctation of the aorta, ADHD, amenorrhoea, and obesity.

  • Uterus didelphys (also known as double uterus) – A condition where a female is born with two uteri. It is often accompanied by two vaginas. It is generally not considered a health issue and women with uterus didelphys usually have normal sex lives and pregnancies.[18]

  • Müllerian agenesis (also known as MRKH or Vaginal Agenesis) – A condition that causes the uterus and other reproductive organs in a 46,XX female to be small or absent, as well as the vaginal canal itself. It affects 1 out of 4,500 to 5,000 females and can also come with skeletal or endocrine system issues at conception.


8 thoughts on “Laying this one to rest

  1. They’ve tried to bring in the term “disorders of sexual development” which describes this better, the term “intersex” was only meant to indicate that the person had a condition which deviated from the typical anatomy which you would expect to see. As you note, these people in most cases are male or female and can be reliably seen to be such and are not inbetween sexes or outside sex entirely.

    It is unfortunately this is being read that way for ideological purposes, we don’t describe people with Down’s syndrome with trisomy 21 in these ways as if they fall out of the group entirely and it can be talked about in quite dehumanising ways. These are people born with congenital conditions, they face real difficulties managing this and that’s what is important not that someone can use them to excuse what they go and do.

    They try to claim that because this happens, we don’t or can’t know what sex somebody is. But we do, and it needs to be pointed out that of course if you don’t have one of those conditions and are a typical male or female that is what you are, you cannot score rhetorical points with that.

    • Well I’m glad the language has changed to more accurately reflect what’s going on , but it’s a shame that they were forced to change the language , when “intersex” would have done just fine if the stupid trans movement hadn’t co-opted it.
      On some Klinefelter website they’re using the trans newsspeak to talk about their condition – they say you can be male or female .But that’s factually incorrect . People with this syndrome are always male—even if they present as feminine.
      Yes , I wish we didn’t have to discuss this topic to be honest , and I personally have no issue with a male “female assigned at birth” person being allowed in women’s bathrooms. But I draw the line at having to think of them as female– because their chromosomes tell us they’re not .

    • Also, although in “most cases” they can be reliably seen as male or female, there are also cases where they cannot reliably be “seen as” one sex— however this does not mean they don’t have a distinct sex. They are always either male or female. That’s set in stone by the chromosomes. That’s my main point here. There’s no such thing as “between sex” , “outside of sex” or “continuum of sex”. They’re still either male or female, and their sex might differ from how they present to the world .
      The fact that they are forced to present as either male or female at all is simply a sign of our misogynistic society , which requires that all human beings demonstrate which sex class they belong to: females being the subordinate class, of course

  2. I agree, anyone with a Y is male and anyone without one is female. Intersex is not a useful term, disorders of sexual development is much more accurate.

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