So, I had the tv on yesterday. Which is abnormal for me, because I don't actually have the time these days to do anything. Ever. At all. Think about that.
Anyway, I actually had the television on while I was eating between classes, and a show came on that started talking about intersex people. Have you ever heard the term? It turns out that an "intersex" person is the same thing as a "hermaphrodite", except that the term "hermaphrodite" is seen as offensive nowadays and is supposed to apply to animals and plants only.
It's a really interesting topic to look into. The intersex person they were interviewing explained that what we think of as a clear distinction between male and female is wrong, that sex isn't actually black and white differences but a range that people fall into. Apparantly, all babies start out as females, and hormones determine whether they become male or not. An intersex person wouldn't fall to one extreme end of the scale like most people do because the hormones that turn them manly didn't finish the job.
All this jabber translates into: the baby has man AND woman parts. A lot of parents choose surgery to make the baby one sex or another, but some believe that they should wait until the child is grown and can decide for themselves what they want. If I'm understanding this right, it's a strongly held belief in the intersex community that a person should be allowed to choose and that corrective surgery at birth is a horrific and psychologically dangerous decision for the kid.
To refer to someone who's intersex, you would use "hir" (pronounced "here") to stand for "him/her". The word "zhe" (pronounced "zee") would be used for "he/she". The intersex community would like for these pronouns to be more widely used, but since intersexuality isn't really very openly discussed in our culture, that's just not happening, at least not yet.
I find this whole topic interesting, so I took time to research it a little (which is something I haven't gotten to do in forever because I don't really have the time to pursue my own interests much). After reading up on intersex people, I got linked to reading about androgynes and transsexuals too.
Androgynes are people who deliberately dress in non-gender-specific clothes so that it's practically impossible to tell if they're male or female simply from looking at them. Some do this in the belief that sex shouldn't matter, so they force people to interact with someone who's sexually ambiguous. I think they ask people to use the same pronouns as intersex people do.
Transsexuals are people born as "the wrong gender". They identify with the opposite sex so much that they believe they've been born into the wrong body. An important thing to understand about all of these subjects is that "sex" is a person's biological identification, their physical body, while "gender" is our society's associations. Your sex is whether you're male, female, or intersex. Your gender would apply to the way you act, the things you choose to do, which sex you identify with, your role.
I can't even get into all the implications with sexual orientation. If you're intersex, or even transsexual (if you want to stretch it a little), how do you know whether you're gay or straight? What if you're dating/having sex with/in love with someone who's intersex?
I should make sure to specify for everything I've said today: I'm not part of any of these communities, so I have no way of truly knowing if my information is correct. I researched it on my own, so I can't be sure how valid these things are, and I invite anyone who knows more than me on any of these topics to please correct me on anything I've misrepresented and share anything they choose to educate us further.
So why did I spew all this random information with no real point? I just find it interesting. Don't you think it was time you learned something new that was actually interesting anyway? :)
For commenters: What's something you saw on television or learned about in some other way recently that grabbed your attention? What's your take on any of the subjects I covered today? How do you think you would handle being intersex, transexual, or androgynous in today's society?
photo found using Google images