A hermaphrodite describes a person who is born with both female and male physical characteristics. Increasingly, however, intersex is becoming a more popular description when referring to individuals of this congenital state. A hermaphrodite may be born with both sex organs or may be born with one main sex organ, but possess part of a second opposite organ. Beyond visible features, other physical characteristics may also cause a person to be defined as intersex, such as the chromosomal differences apparent in Klinefelter syndrome where a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome. The hermaphrodite label is not only applied to humans, but is often used to describe certain plant species, as well as other animals that possess both sex organs. Historically, humans born with this condition often undergo surgery during infancy. For all intents and purposes, surgery is intended to eliminate one of the sex organs and, thus, make the child anatomically either female or male.
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You might think it's grand to be a well endowed fish. After all, some female fish prefer mates with larger sex organs, a new study finds. The studs with larger gonopodia, which is what scientists call male fish sex organs, can't swim as fast as their less impressive counterparts, so they're more likely to get eaten by predators. The study was done on mosquitofish, which are like guppies.
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NCBI Bookshelf. Endotext [Internet]. The chromosomal sex of the embryo is established at fertilization. However, 6 weeks elapse in humans before the first signs of sex differentiation are noticed. Sex differentiation involves a series of events whereby the sexually indifferent gonads and genitalia progressively acquire male or female characteristics. Believed initially to be governed entirely by the presence or absence of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome, gonadal determination has proven to rely on a complex network of genes, whose balanced expression levels either activate the testis pathway and simultaneously repress the ovarian pathway or vice versa. The presence or absence of primordial germ cells, of extragonadal origin, also has a sexually dimorphic relevance. Here we review the sexually undifferentiated stage of embryonic development, and the anatomic, histologic, physiologic and molecular aspects of the fetal sexual differentiation of the gonads, the internal reproductive tract and the external genitalia.
Home Issues 6 Articles Beyond Binarism? Intersex as an E Sexual difference combines various aspects, ranging from the biological to the social, which, once delimited, reduce people to two political categories: woman and man. Although these categories are not naturally watertight, most societies reject diversity understood as deformity in favour of a binary sexual system. This article aims to deconstruct this binarism, suggesting that it is not coherent to speak of two sexes, but rather of a multiplicity. Based on feminist theory, queer theory and philosophy, the text develops a reflection on intersex, showing how it has been considered at different times.