Young and intersex

Some people have a boy’s body and others have a girl’s body. And some have an intersex body – the following information is for you:

What does intersex mean?

Intersex (or inter*) basically means that a person is born with physical sex characteristics of a boy and a girl (e.g. hormones, genes or bodily parts) or with physical sex characteristics that boys or girls do not exhibit. This happens more often than most adults think.

There are many different variations of intersex and just as many complicated sounding medical terms.

Am I different?

If you consider this closely, all human beings are shaped differently. But only with respect to sex and gender, we have been conditioned to pigeonhole people into men or women. This does not really work because nature has not produced only two types of human beings.

One could also say: You are different because everybody else is different.

What can I expect in puberty?

It could well be that your body develops differently from that of your peers. In fact, that might be how you find out that you are inter* in the first place.

In the beginning, this can be quite hard to digest. For most of us, puberty is a confusing time anyway. Many young people feel under pressure because their bodies do not resemble those of the men and women they see on television. For inter* youth this time can be extra challenging because even today, too few people know how diverse bodies can be, and that this is normal.

Maybe later in life you want to live as a man, woman or as neither a man nor a woman. Hormones can help the body grow stronger in a specific direction - either more female or male or even stop the development for now.

Do I need medical treatment?

It is not a disease to be intersex. Nevertheless, it might be that you are required to undergo special tests or take replacement hormones. Some tests are necessary to ensure you’re healthy. But either way, you have the right to know the reasons and what is being examined.

Maybe the test results conclude that your gonads need to be surgically removed so that you do not fall sick (gonads is a generic term for testicles, ovaries and their intermediate forms). However, these interventions are no longer performed as widely as in the past. Because today, there is more understanding about the importance of allowing bodies to remain the way they are for now.

There is a code of conduct for intersex that all medical practitioners must follow (‘guidelines’), which states that children and youth must be able to participate in the decision-making. Surgery should only be performed if absolutely no other possibility exists to ensure the person’s health.

Where can I meet other inter* youth?

Inter* people often think they are all alone; because they hardly hear anything about intersex in schools and inter* persons are seldom represented in the media.

However, inter* youth are making their voices heard in blogs, comics, at parent-child support groups or at international conferences.