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Intersex is an umbrella identity that describes a person who is born with primary, secondary of other sexual characteristics which don’t fit into the medical binary of “female” or “male.” Being intersex is as natural and normal as someone whose sex is assigned male or female at birth. Many intersex people choose to share their identity, while others choose not to – it’s all down to personal choice. Think of it this way, if you have a penis and were assigned male at birth, you’re unlikely to think about telling your friends, family and partners that you do, in fact, have a penis and are biologically male! 

Much like gender, biological sex is a spectrum and many people are born with bodies that overlap both the “male” and “female” sex profiles. Being intersex isn’t necessarily something that can be deduced by the appearance of primary sexual characteristics (external indicators of sex, such as genitals). Some people who are intersex are born with vulva or a penis, but they may have secondary or other sex characteristics which correspond with the “opposite” sex they are assigned at birth. For example, a person may have a vulva and experience the same levels of testosterone in their body as someone assigned male. According to the strict binary of medical classifications, that person is “both female and male”, but in this case they may actually be intersex. This is why some people are intersex without even being aware of it themselves.

Some intersex people are born with genitalia that does not fit into the binary model of what male or female genitals are supposed to look like. Sometimes, doctors do surgeries on intersex babies and children to make their bodies fit binary ideas of “male” or “female” – in the case of young people who are still dependants, this is a violation of bodily consent because they aren’t being allowed to make a decision about their body.

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