What does intersex mean?
Download the pamphlet (PDF, 132KB)
A variety of conditions that lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics are collectively referred to as intersex conditions. These conditions can involve abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes or sex-related hormones. Some examples include:
- External genitals that cannot be easily classified as male or female.
- Incomplete or unusual development of the internal reproductive organs.
- Inconsistency between the external genitals and the internal reproductive organs.
- Abnormalities of the sex chromosomes.
- Abnormal development of the testes or ovaries.
- Over- or underproduction of sex-related hormones.
- Inability of the body to respond normally to sex-related hormones.
“Intersex” was originally a medical term that was later embraced by some intersex persons. Many experts and persons with intersex conditions have recently recommended adopting the term “disorders of sex development” (DSD). They feel that this term is more accurate and less stigmatizing than the term intersex.