Inter (-sexual)

You may have seen the following scene in a movie: After giving birth, the doctor looks between the legs of the newborn and announces to the happy parents: 'It's a girl.' Or: 'It's a boy.'

In real life, it’s not much different - even if many parents now have an ultrasound test to find out the gender of their child months before giving birth. If the child has a penis: Boy. If it has a vagina: Girl. It is quite logical, isn’t it? It's actually not that logical, because it happens over and over again that children are born with an ambiguous gender. Various highly complex mechanisms in our body decide whether we have more typically male or typically female characteristics. In most cases, this means that we can be clearly identified as either male or female. But sometimes results are less clear, as the boundaries between men and women, boys and girls are blurred. Sometimes you see this immediately after giving birth, for example if the child has a particularly small penis or a vagina and testicles. In most cases, however, this is only determined later - for example, when a supposed girl becomes conspicuously large and broad-shouldered and develops a deep voice over time, or when a supposed boy grows small breasts during puberty. When tests are then carried out it sometimes emerges that no clear gender can be assigned medically either. Such people are called 'intersexual', which means 'intergender'. However, some affected people find this term inappropriate because they do not perceive themselves as 'between' anything. Some prefer to call themselves 'Hermaphrodites'.

Intersexuality has existed for as long as humankind has existed, and it has been dealt with differently at different times and in different places. For example, in some religions, intersex is viewed as sacred and as a higher level of life that is closer to God. In contrast, intersexuality has been and still is regarded, especially in the western world, by many doctors as a disease. For a long time, it was therefore also common in Germany to operate on babies that were born with an ambiguous gender directly after birth or as a toddler and thus to determine a gender - often without consultation of the parents and without giving the child the chance to make a decision of their own. It was assumed that everyone with a clear gender would do better in life. This turned out to be a mistake over and over again, not only because most of those affected have to undergo increasing interventions and take medication after their first operation. Many also suffer psychologically, without having had a say in a particular identity with which they may not feel comfortable. Several intersexuals do not want to change at all and demand that they be accepted by society even if they cannot be classified into one of the two categories: 'Woman' or 'man'. They don't want to be made out to be a saint or discriminated against, but simply treated like 'normal' people. 

Fortunately, intersexuality is now dealt with differently in Germany, and children are no longer subject to forced surgery in early childhood without any consideration. Nevertheless, many intersex people still have problems being accepted - often their own family asks them to choose one of the two sexes - and as a result often do not accept themselves as they are. If you can relate to these problems and don't know who you can talk to about them: We, at the FeM-Mädchenhaus, will be happy to support you either here in the closed area or in the open forum.