Intersexuality, a question of sex.
"A question of sex"
Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition
Sex is a complicated thing to define
AGREEING that the sports authorities were shabby, intrusive and untruthful in their handling of the case of Caster Semenya, the 18-year-old South African runner who won a gold medal in Berlin in August, is one thing. Deciding who is or is not a woman is another. On October 11th the International Association of Athletics Federations said it would try to settle this question for future games.
They will need brainpower to match the muscles that they administer. Scientists reckon that at least 1.7% of people are born with one of several dozen possible intersexual conditions. A few are apparent from birth, some become visible only at puberty and many may never be identified. Instead of two X chromosomes, some women have three; others have two XXs and an extra Y, or one of many other variations. Men may have an extra X chromosome or two on top of their normal XY combination.
Not every culture divides the sexes absolutely. North American tribal customs feature ?two-spirit? people who combined male and female attributes (anthropologists call these ?berdache?, from a French word for catamite). In South Asia hijras are considered neither male nor female. They may be intersex people or men who take on feminine identities, sometimes after castration. They often have horrid lives.
Anne Tamar-Mattis of Advocates for Informed Choice, an American pressure group, says that though legal systems assume that male and female are indisputable categories, none defines them. A rare exception is in Australia, where a Human Rights Commission report in March 2009 recommended that adults should be allowed to register their sex as ?unspecified? on documents such as passports. In February 2009 an Austrian court ruled that surgery was not a prerequisite for sex and name changes. Similarly, Germany?s Federal Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that regarding an operation as a precondition for a legally valid sex change was increasingly problematic.
Other courts have created more problems than they solve. In 2000, for example, a Texan widow called Christie Littleton sued her late husband?s doctor for malpractice. But during the case, it was revealed that she herself had become a woman only after a sex-change operation. The judge ruled that as surgery does not change chromosomes and that as Texas law does not recognise same-sex unions, the marriage was void. The judge recognised the ramifications of a genetic definition of marriage. It could invalidate some unions involving an intersex partner, but also allow a genetic male and female to marry even if they look as if they belong to the same sex.
One of the few judicial decisions to deal explicitly with intersex conditions came in 1999 from the Constitutional Court of Colombia. It restricted surgical interventions on children born with atypical genitals. This was rarely urgent, it said, and should be postponed until children are old enough to give their consent. That cautious approach has not caught on. Ms Tamar-Mattis says that American doctors are slowly becoming less heavy-handed, but prompt surgery?genital mutilation in the eyes of critics?remains the norm in industrialised countries. So does ill-treatment. Just ask Ms Semenya, whose privacy has been trampled and achievement undermined. Her ?gender verification? tests are due to be published next month.
The Myths and the Facts
Myth 1..Homosexuality is a mental illness or disease
Fact.. Homosexuality is not a mental illness or emotional problem. Until the 1970s, it was believed to be so, but that was primarily because the only research done involved only those people who were in threapy. Better research has since revealed that many homosexuals have no problems either mentally or emotionaly. For those who do have some emotional problems, it is primarily because of the stigma that society has placed on homosexuals. Once a homosexual is able to accept themselves, then they often lead a fruitful life.
Myth 2..Sexual orientation is a choice.
Fact.. Sexual Orientation is not a choice. Sexual orientation is usually nanifests itself in early adolescence prior to any sexual experience. What is a choice is a person's decision to act on their orientation, or to deny act and act against it. Doing the latter can create emotional problems at a later date.
Myth 3..Reparative therapy and conversion therapy will cure homosexuality.
Fact .. There is no reparative therapy or conversion for homosexuals. Once a person's orientqation is set, it cannot be changed from homosexual to heterosexual. It is possible that the person, with time, may overcome their willingness to act on their orientation, but this is something that should be decided by the individual, and not forced by such things as therapy or conversion therapy. Claims by groups on conversion therapy are poorly documented, and little if any long term follow up is done, so any findings on such therapy are unrealistic.
Myth 4..Homosexuals should not be allowed to raise kids because it will create probelms for the kids.
Fact .. Gays and lesbians can be good parents.All studies done show that children raised in homosexual households are at the same developmental level as those raised in heterosexual homes. In fact, children raised in the home of a homosexual parent are likely to be more accepting of people who others may shun.
Myth 5.. Homosexuals are carriers of HIV and AIDS
Fact.. All homosexual males are not HIV infected. In fact, the rise in HIV infections is actually higher among other high risk groups right now than it is among homosexual males. A person's behavior decides primarily their risk for infection.
Myth 6.. Homosexuals want to force their lifestyle on others.
Fact.. The reason most homosexuals are so open about their sexual orientation is for their own mental health. It is helpful to a person's self esteem to have others know about them, rather than hiding, and also helps to develop a better understanding about homosexuals.
Myth 7.. Homosexuals come from broken homes or homes without a religous background.
Fact.. Homosexuality is not a product of poor upbringing or lack of religous beliefs. In fact, homosexuals come from all types of family backgrounds, and from all walks of life. They also represent almost all religions.
Myth 8.. Child abuse leads to homosexuality.
Fact.. There is no proof that abuse as a child causes a person to be homosexual. In fact, many who are abused as a child often grow up to be heterosexual.
Myth 9..Homosexuals are miserable people, often with deep depression.
Fact.. Homosexuals are not lonely, miserable people. This is an idea that many conservative religous groups would like to be true, and reenforce with the stigmas they palce on homosexuals. In fact, most homosexuals lead a healthy, productive life once they overcome the burden of stigmas placed on them.
Myth 10..Gays flaunt their sexuality.
Fact.. Most gays do not flaunt their sexuality. In fact, a double standard has been set in place regarding homosexuals. It is alright for a heterosexual couple, whether they are married or not, to openly kiss, hug, or hold hands in public, while it is considered wrong for comitted homosexual coupls to do so.
Myth 11..What gays do in bed is perverted and disgusting.
Fact.. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is no one's. The fact is, gays don't do anything in bed that heterosexuals don't do themselves.
Myth 12..Homosexuals are child molesters.
Fact.. Heterosexual males are the most likely to be child molesters. In fact, males who do molest children of the same sex are normally involved with teh opposite sex in normal adult activities.
Myth 13..Homsexuals recruit and seduce otehrs to the homosexual lifestyle.
Fact.. This is another myth perpetrated by religous conservatives. Think for a moment. How hard would it be for a homosexual to recruit others? They would face harassment and ridicule from others, and possibly death if the wrong person was approached.
Myth 14..Gays have a hidden agenda.
Fact.. Gays are very straight foward in what they want, equal rights and equeal protection of those rights. It is organozations that are opposed to gays that speak of a hidden agenda.
Myth 15.. Gays want special rights.
Fact.. Once again, it is opposition groups that speak of gays wanting special rights. Heterosexuals do not have to worry about losing their job or not being able to rent a place to live because of their sexuality, while homosexuals do.
Since some will ask for my sources, I will freely give them. Some of these facts comes from the Center for Disease Control, American Psycholigical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association. Many of the facts can be checked at the following sites;
LGBTQQI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer Question and intersex. It is sometimes used as an all in compassing word for homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual, etc.
Is LGBTQQI normal?
Historians have determined that homosexuality has existed since the beginning of humanity. Anthropologists report that LGBTQQI has been a part of every culture. LGBTQQI is represented in every socioeconomic class, educational level, and race. Homosexuality is often criticized because it doesn’t result in procreation.
Coming out to your parents?
Telling your parents can definitely have its reward, sharing such important personal information about your self can strengthen your relationship with parents, and may even deepen their trust with you, but while parents welcome the news, others may react poorly.
If you're thinking of coming out to your parents, it's important to know if one or both of them will understand and support you. If coming out means that you risk losing your place in the family and its support, you may need to wait until you can find a way to support yourself, both emotionally and financially. Think carefully about your answers to these questions before making your final decision:
- Are you sure about your sexual orientation? Do you definitely want to declare it at this point in your life?
- Are you comfortable with your sexuality?
- Do you have the support of friends and family?
- Are you knowledgeable about the challenges that LGBTQQI people face?
- What's the emotional climate at home?
- What's your motive for coming out now?
- Do you have available resources to care for yourself if your parents decide not to because of your sexual identity?
- Are you financially dependent on your parents?
- What is your general relationship with your parents?
- What are their views about sexual orientation?
- Is coming out your own decision?
Do lesbian or gay men hate the opposite sex?
Lesbians are lesbians because they form loving relationships with the same sex, and the same goes for gay men. Neither forms relationships because they hate the opposite sex.
Can LGBTQQI people have families?
Gay, lesbians, bisexual, transgender and queer people can have families. Same sex-couples do form committed relationships. More and more LGBTQQI couples are also raising their children together, although state law on adoption and foster parenting vary. Many LGBTQQI people have the support of the loving families they were born into, or the families that they have created with their friends and loved ones.
What does the term “queer” mean?
All gay people do not embrace queer. It is true that many chosen to reclaim as LGBTQQI people, while other use to design only those in the community who are political activists. There are other gay people who dislike the word “queer” and resent its true meaning. Term such as “dyke” and “fag” can be insulting.
Why should people be informed about LGBTQQI?
People should be informed about LGBTQQI because it reduces the homophobia. This makes it easier for one to live a more open and reproductive life and work and home communities. For youth who do understand it could be a matter of life or death, the risk of suicide in LGBTQQI adolescents is greater than of their straight counterparts.