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I just read the entire archive of Intersex Roadshow over the last few days (I'm reading Trans-Fusion now) and I wanted to thank you, because it was brilliant. I've rarely come across someone with such a sensible and well articulated discussion of the facts of human diversity. Definitely recommending your work to just about everyone.
Why, thank you, transponderer! I’m honored.
How do you feel about transgender people using the term 'assigned at birth' to describe their socialization as male/female when they identify as neither or as the opposite. I've seen this a lot and I'm quite glad that the genderbinary is being challenged but I worried that a terrible crime (surgically altering the genitals of intersex babies) is being erased from the conversation if 'assigned at birth' takes on such a broad meaning.
I don’t have any problem with using the language of “assigned at birth” being used by nonintersex trans* folks. But I really do wish that trans* people, and everyone else, would acknowledge the big difference between a surgical assignment at birth and a nonsurgical one. And I would absolutely take offense if a nonintersex trans* person implied that they were intersex to “excuse” their transition. Nobody needs an excuse—and people who do this don’t acknowledge the terrible problem of infant intersex genital mutilation, and often spread misinformation about intersex people along the way.
My personal opinion is not necessarily that of other intersex folks, mind you. But I’m a believer in sex/gender autonomy. We’re all assigned to binary sexes at birth without asking our opinions. It’s just that this process is generally way more physically coercive for intersex children.
What I wanted to ask about is a certain configuration - is it possible for an individual to have ovaries, a well-developed uterus, a penis and male secondary traits (i.e. flat breasts)? It's a configuration often found in pornographic fiction, used mostly to justify men getting pregnant. Does it happen in real life?
Hi there. Yes, I am aware that this is a staple of mpreg fiction. Some children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are born with typical ovaries and uterus, a typical-looking phallus, and a scrotum that is empty. These children have atypically high levels of testosterone at birth. If they are not altered medically, they will have a feminizing puberty—i.e., grow breasts, and develop a menstrual cycle. Generally, the period would not exit the body but be retained in the pelvis and gradually reabsorbed. There would be no way to get sperm to their uteri, which makes pregnancy not possible naturally. With their higher than average testosterone, they would have more body and facial hair than is typical in females—if high enough, it would suppress the menstrual cycle.
Almost always in contemporary developed nations, such children are raised as girls, and surgically altered at birth. The phallus is “reduced” and restructured to appear more like a typical female, and testosterone-suppressant drugs given. At puberty, a vaginoplasty is performed and these individuals, under medical care, can become pregnant. But they will will have breasts, hips, and, if continuing their testosterone-suppression, pretty much female patterns of facial and body hair.
In theory, a man could have an embryo implanted in his pelvis and have an ectopic pregnancy (the placenta would attach to the intestines or some other organ). This would require lots of progesterone and estrogen to be administered, and testosterone suppression. Most ectopic pregnancies, however, are fatal to the parent.
In any case, to be pregnant, you need a lot of progesterone and fairly low testosterone. This means breasts, unless you have chest reconstructive surgery.
Short answer: no, this mpreg fantasy is indeed fantasy.
Can you speak to the differences between the the term "hermaphrodite" and "intersexed"? Is the former considered rude in general?
The word hermphrodite comes to us directly from ancient Greek mythology, in which the god/dess Hermaphrodite was the offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite. Today, the word hermaphrodite is used by scientists to mean having reproductive capacity as both male and female, either simultaneously (as in snail procreation), or serially (as in many fishes).
In the U.S. today, few people who are born sex-variant use the word hermaphrodite to describe themselves, because it seems to them to imply that they are creatures of myth, or that they have duplicated instead of intermediate sex characteristics. In America, people use the word intersex, or refer themselves as people with DSDs (Disorders of Sex Development).
In Europe, there are a larger number of people who call themselves “herms” instead of intersex, but in the U.S., it’s generally considered rude or clueless by most.
I, personally, don’t mind the word hermaphrodite at all, while I would never call myself “disordered” and dislike DSD terminology. But my position isn’t typical of U.S. folks born sex-variant.
So I wanted to ask you what you think about something I saw on 9gag, but apparently I can't put links in here. So, just go to 9gag and search for "Nobody will ever know". What I'm talking about is a Sudden Clarity Clarence meme that says: "No one will ever know whether it's more painful to give birth or ti get kicked on the nuts". Anyways, what do you think?
That’s easy: giving birth. Unless someone kicks you in the nuts for an average of 12-36 straight hours, of course.
Am intersex, that c.a.h classic term, am an 80s baby. I reside in the Midwest and am Mexican. Am glad I found your blog, oh so very glad :) I didn't ask a question, just wanted to say hi.
Yay, everythingamnot! Hello to you :).
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