Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

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re: The term intersexed has lost its meaning to me now. Main Archives Page2003
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re: The term intersexed has lost its meaning to me now.
Dec. 21st, 2003   4:13pm

Hi John,

As  male with CAH, have to agree with you that there is an inordinate amount of focus placed on genital ambiguity being somehow more "real" or "worthy"than other less profound manifestations of intersexuality.

In males, CAH causes an increase in androgens to the point where the body begins to convert them to estrogens, which can cause gynecomastia, adult height in the female range, PMS-like mood swings and other behavioural problems. "Sex" hormone levels are constantly out of whack. Yet CAH is not considered an intersex condition in males as it is in females, because the genitals are not rendered incongruent with the personís chromosomes.  So a person like me who is 5í3" tall, wearís ladies petite clothing sizes (because menís clothing doesnít ever fit), has small but noticeable breasts and feminine fat distribution, and is regularly mistaken for a woman (even with a beard shadow)is treated by the IS community and researchers largely as an outsider and an insignificant statistic who doesnít deserve the benefits of research or support for what can only be described as a case of being born "in between" the traditional gender boxes. If that isnít intersexed, I donít know what is.  I am supposed to just shut up and be happy that I have a "normal" penis, I guess, as if genitals were the only factor that makes a person a man or a woman or in-between.

Personally, I think this kind of genital-centric thinking is at the heart of the day to day hassles that IS people face, and I find it quite disheartening to see these same people using genital anomalies as some kind of litmus test for allowing others inclusion in "their" group. Some of the attitudes I have seen while researching my condition are appalling in their hostility to people who are in a borderline state...it is astounding to me that people who donít want to be judged by their genitals are so quick to do exactly that to others as a means of deciding if they are "really" intersexed or not.

I also think the day is coming when many people in the intersex community will be forced to re-assess their (often very bigoted) exclusion of those who are psychologically intersexed, ie transsexual,  as not being related in any way to those who are genitally intersexed...as medical science is finding out that the same hormonal actions that can cause genital ambiguity in utero affect brain development, including gender identity.

 

ian

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