Thursday, September 25, 2014

F if for Fertility

Today F is for fertility.  Common wisdom is that intersex conditions render the person sterile, but this is not entirely true.  Most intersex conditions vary considerably in where, and how much, ambiguity there is in any specific person.  Many intersex people are sterile, but many could give birth, or father children.  Often these conceptions, pregnancies, and births are quite difficult, but in some cases it is possible.  Ultimately how fertile an intersex person is should be determined on a case by case basis.   

Frankly the common practice of removing the gonads of intersex people sterilizes more people than the conditions themselves.  To be fair, there are good reasons behind removing the gonads.  There is a good chance mixed tissue gonads will become cancerous.  This cancer risk could be monitored, there is no need to take currently healthy organs.  This unnecessary sterilization is just further medical abuse of the intersexed.  As I mentioned earlier, many, if not most, intersex people are sterile, or have diminished fertility.  That being said, if they could become biological parents that option should be there for them when they reach adulthood.  I believe that keeping options and choices open for the intersex patient should be the main goal for their care so they can make the right choice for them.  That this is not considered a breach of the Hippocratic Oath is astounding.

Many people (especially heterosexual, cisgender people) consider reproduction a key part of their gender identity.  They might consider non-consensual sterilization to be psychologically devastating.  For some people it might be.  I can only discuss this from my own experience.  I had my gonads removed as a young child and chose to have a hysterectomy in my mid-twenties.  My parents were open and honest with me growing up.  As a result I grew up knowing that I was sterile and it became part of my self perception.  With no basis for comparison, it is all I know, and I accept this.  Honestly, to discover at this point that I could biologically have children would be far more disturbing then hearing I can't.     


  1. I'm new to all the terms out there defining people outside the norms like of simply "female" or "male". As a biologically-born female, it's a real eye-opener reading into articles and expanding my knowledge on intersex. I guess this is because I consider myself leading a sheltered life and never having the chance to explore my own sexual orientation. In fact, I don't see myself as someone who'll get pregnant and living in a family setting. I guess my parents' divorce warped my perception of settling down.

    I'm almost an adult now and will be discovering myself, if that's even possible considering my mother sees being gay as a disease while school feels so mundane. Even the prospect of adopting, in my mother's eyes, isn't good because of etc of twisted reasons that make no sense. My life so far has been oriented around only family and school; it can be very suffocating. Once I step out of the comfort of both, I hope to venture around in the real world and soak in all the knowledge there is. I'll definitely become a changed and educated person.

    I have absolute respect for you. For you to especially share your own experiences, I believe that's a step in the right direction in helping more people, like myself, become conscious of intersex because when people don't understand things, what results is fear and to reject it all through horrible forms like discrimination or bullying. Worse is for denial, continuing to be misinformed and holding closed-minded views. I'm thankful that you brought gender constraints and expectations towards my attention.

    It shocks me how schools don't educate students about this. People at an early age should be taught to accept differences because every single person truly is unique and that should be each person's pride and joy. It shouldn't be something made to feel ashamed of. That's why the medical community brings me feelings of disappointment considering how babies are altered; depriving the right to make their own choice and for the sake of conformity.

    It's cruel for there to be stigma to the extent of making intersex something to be erased from society. Personally, I believe that this topic shouldn't be depicted as taboo and wrong, I would weigh more on what's inside someone's heart rather than considering their differences as flaws. Society places too much pressure on conforming but that's what's truly wrong. Everyone should express themselves and lead their life as the unique person they are without allowing judgement and criticism consume them.

    You're great for educating everyone in understanding that a person should be able to choose when it comes to their own identity or about parts of their body. In the end, nobody else should make that choice besides themselves.

    By the way, sorry for the long comment. All my thoughts just flowed out.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment, you have obviously been thinking a lot about these issues. I am so glad you are finding this blog helpful, its very gratifying to hear that I am reaching people. Please feel free to post any other comments or questions you might have, I'll answer as best I can. Good luck on your journey, it sounds like you are very self aware, and searching for more information, and that is half the battle.

  3. Just noticed your post and I'd like to add something. My grandmother was intersex but I'm not sure what the whole story is as there doesn't see,mot be a condition that defines what she was like.
    She was raised female as that was what fit at the time for her appearance (born in the 1930s) but had an enlarged clitoris, voice deepening as she got older and a male skeleton.
    She was also fertile as she gave birth to my mother as a female (have to differentiate here as I knew him as a man) and the labour was difficult due to her male skeleton.

    In the end she transitioned to a man and I knew him as my Uncle growing up, no idea what the real relationship was.

    So it can happen, it's basically why I am here.

  4. Can I use a sentence (intersex people arent always infertile) in a project I have for school? The teacher says not to trust blogs where the author isn't listed, but I find your blog trustworthy. Also, great post! I asked about if there was going to be anything about intersex people in the science book, and our scienceteacher said no, so I think intersex issues should be more in schools.

  5. If it can be determined that a person is fertile, in either the male or female role, doesn't that determine their sex? Why would there be a need to label them "intersex" in that case?