First published on Christian Sexuality Focus
Currently, knowledge of intersex issues is being overshadowed by the furore over transgender and gender identity spectrum.
WHAT DOES INTERSEX MEAN?
Amie first married when she was young, and had her first child more than 20 years ago. Instead of having one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, as men have, or two X chromosomes, as is typically female, the child had two X’s and a Y. (In other words, their chromosomal makeup is 47 XXY, which in males is the most common karotype associated with “Klinefelters Syndrome”). In this particular case, however, according to her account, the child had undescended testicles, and developed distinctly female characteristics at puberty, perhaps resulting from another condition like partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, or possibly because they were XXY female to begin with. (We are not claiming to be intersex experts here, but there have been cases where a 47 XXY karotype has been identified in females)
Hence my own personal situation of being a 47,XXY male with most of the physical characteristics of my body being distinctively male, but somewhat feminised, and requiring Reandron injections to maintain a normal range of serum testosterone in my bloodstream, due to insufficient natural production from underdeveloped testes, is an example of an intersex condition, and relatively straightforward to address, compared to the wider range of intersex conditions that exist across the spectrum.
In the article, Amie’s second child Victory is a “female” with 47,XXY karotype who also has partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and ambiguous genitalia, with a birth certificate that reads “boy” assigned on the basis of a Y chromosome. Consequently, “he” is somewhat ambiguous in their gender identity in childhood (currently self identifying as female), but can expect this will become more pronounced at adolescence as the impact of PAIS will be that their body will fail to masculinise and become more distinctly female in appearance. They have the option of having genital surgery in the future if they wish to identify more strongly with a particular gender but it will be their personal choice. There is currently fierce debate in the medical community over whether parents and medical professionals should make a decision for an intersex child to have their genitals corrected, or whether it should be left for the child to make a decision for themselves as an adult. Victoty is unable to get their birth certificate changed to “girl” due to opposition from legal officials in their part of conservative Utah.
There is currently unnecessary prejudice and misunderstanding against the intersex community, including in New Zealand, coming from ultra conservative Christian groups (probably ones that restrict women in ministry and teach complementarian gender theology). I’ll refer to that more fully in my next post.