Intersex Is a Medical Condition, Not a Gender

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Despite the ambiguity of their sex organs, most intersex people are still discernably male or female. For example, in the intersex case known as “46, XX,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports, “The person has the chromosomes of a woman, the ovaries of a woman, but external (outside) genitals that appear male. This most often is the result of a female fetus having been exposed to excess male hormones before birth.”[1] Thus, a 46, XX person is biologically female. A “female fetus” develops abnormal physical features because of “having been exposed to excess male hormones before birth,” but the person remains biologically female.

Likewise, as in the case of Jennifer Pagonis (from my first post), a 46, XY person is “genetically male” but “unable to respond to the hormones that produce a male appearance.”[2] Despite the possible presence of female genitalia, this is not a fully developed sex organ because it lacks a uterus, fallopian tubes, and a cervix.[3] As such, the person is unable to conceive or even to menstruate. The presence of female genitalia is not because the person was biologically intended to be female. It is evident that the person was biologically intended to be male, but the developmental process was hindered by a genetic deficiency in the X chromosome.[4] The fact that his body failed to fully mature in a biologically normal manner does not negate the fact that he remains genetically male, and his body was supposed to develop male genitalia. As such, a 46, XY intersex person is biologically male, despite his appearance.

Citing the Consortium on the Management of Disorder of Sex Development’s Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Disorders of Sex Development in Childhood, the American College of Pediatricians released a statement, saying:

The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident. The exceedingly rare disorders of sex development (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design. Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex (emphasis added).[5]

Intersex conditions do not negate the reality of the male and female binary any more than mutations and defects negate any other objective reality. Likewise, the existence of intersex conditions does not prove that biological sex is merely a social construction. Biological sex exists independent of what we choose to believe. As the blogger EvolutionistX notes, “Reality doesn’t care what you call it.”[6] He also writes:

All “socially constructed” really means is that the definition of a word–or concept–is agreed upon via some form of common consensus. Thus, the meaning of words can be changed if everyone decides to do so.

“Gay” was once socially constructed to mean “happy.” Now, by popular consensus, “gay” means something else. … When people start making a big deal out of social constructivism, it is natural to think this must be some big, profound, important insight, otherwise they wouldn’t be going on for so long.

But people only pull out this argument when they want to deny the existence of actual reality, not when trying to argue that your notion of “ornamental shrub” is socially constructed and you should plant a blueberry bush.

Reality exists, no matter how we care to conceptualize it and organize the data we’re getting about it. Most categories that weren’t invented for the sake of a novel (“elves” probably are totally made up,) exist because they serve some sort of functional purpose. Being able to call someone “male” or “female,” “black” or “white” or “Bantu” or “Japanese” allows me to convey a bundle of information to the listener—a feature of language obvious to virtually everyone who has ever engaged in conversation, except to folks trying to eliminate such words from the language on the grounds that they are made up and so carry no information.[7]

Intersex is a medical condition, not an additional category of biological sex. Intersex cannot be cited as evidence of a third gender. However, as a deviation from God’s created design, intersex conditions are evidence of the effect of sin upon God’s creation.

This article comes from Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Medline Plus. “Intersex.” n.d. Accessed May 25, 2016.

2. Whitelocks, Sadie. “‘I Exist in the Gray’: 29-Year Old Who Looks Like a Woman but Has Male Genitalia Speaks out about Rare Intersex Condition.” News. Daily Mail, April 17, 2015, 11:44 a.m., EST. Last updated April 29, 2015, 7:50 p.m., EST. Accessed May 31, 2016.

3. Intersex Society of North America. “Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS).” n.d. Accessed May 31, 2016.

4. Intersex Society of North America.

5. American College of Pediatricians. “Gender Ideology Harms Children.” March 21, 2016. Accessed May 25, 2016.

6. EvolutionistX. “Reality Is a Social Construct.” EvolutionistX Blog, June 17, 2015. Accessed May 25, 2016.

7. EvolutionistX. “Transsexuals Prove That Gender Is Real.” EvolutionistX Blog, September 16, 2015. Accessed May 25,


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