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Hermaphrodite Intersex Sexual Interchange Chromosones Testosterone Humans with both Sex Organs



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Growing up in Chicago I remember Riverview Park.  It was an Amusement Park that to us was overwhelming fun.  It was so popular that there were  commercials about the park and it would not be unusual for you to find your classmates on these ads riding a famous ride.  Chicago is a very polarized city and always has been but when it came to Riverview, all ethnic groups gathered on the weekends and any day of the summer break especially, for a good time.  It was a beautiful place to be.   Surprising by today's standards we never heard of an accident on the rides and there were indeed challenging rides like the Bobbs or the Silverstreak, both Roller Coasters.  

Riverview had a sort of circus or side show quality too.  It was where the grown ups went.  It seems that every side show had 'a half this or half that'  theme about it, like the Tabloids of old, which concentrated  on human oddities rather than writing scandalous articles about 'stars'.  There was the Bearded Lady, the Half Man/Half Lobster, The Mermaid or the Half Man/Half Woman and  many more.  Something like a Ripley's believe it or not.   The younger people such as myself never saw these shows.  We children  had no use for these types of scary exhibits and were not allowed entry  but sometimes you heard the adults talk about it: "Gee, on one side was this beautiful woman and on the other side, the man".  Hermaphrodism is by no means that cut and dry.  It's a physiological condition that bothers me that not many seem to understand or want to.  People are what they say they are  in this condition.  They didn't ask for it and imagine, not knowing how exactly to identify your sex because it's a physical combination.  As an average woman who became a Medical Transcriber, I will admit that until I entered that profession, hermaphrodism  was a subject that I couldn't understand so I gave it very little thought.  Still I knew that at those so called 'side shows' that they were not depicting what is now called an Intersex person the right way.  It is far more ambiguous than it would seem.  The side shows were horrible spoofs of reality.  Serious reality.

The Medical Doctor that I worked for had a Grant to visit Islands and bring back unusual cases of Cancer  (I worked for Hemetology/Oncology, Pediatrics).  One of her patients was an eleven year old with Cancer and 'ambiguous genitalia'.  It was my duty to track her in medical reports, i.e. findings, diagnosis, prognosis, procedures. I know these things because I had to write about them and it was so enlightening.   Her genitalia was totally ambiguous; some parts male and some parts female and she suffered cancer in the female portions of her organs.  Her insides were totally mosaic, that is there was a hodgepodge of misdirected organs.  

Blessedly, she was cured of Cancer but of course, she was assigned to the female sex to  fit her in society. This seems to be routinely done but of course is done case by case and according to how one appears.  Not being obviously male, it was more important to classify her as a female.  I would assume for social reasons  Doctors and other Clinical Staff made this decision.  No one knows what inclinations (if any) she will develope as an adult but the team of Doctors and Mental Health staff do meet along with parent or guardian to make the decision to identify the child.  Once there is an identification, that is indeed what you are legally.  People know so little about this condition and the reasons why we all must somehow fit.  Which brings me to what happened to the female  Sprinter from South Africa last year.  After winning medals, the questions of her sexuality began and then it was assumed that she was not a woman, that in fact, she was a man.  It had to be admitted, rather reluctantly by her Officials that she had been born with both.  She was also given Chromosonal tests to verify her status.  All of this because of something physiological.  When she said that she was a woman, she was not lying. When her father was angry over her private life being so totally exposed, he was right too. This man had raised a girl according to her medical records and orientation and legality. She was assigned a sex,  and a place in this world for her growth and adaption.  She was only 18 years old.  But  the news hounds love to drag something so personal and disturbing to the light for no other reason than sensationalism.

There are so many variants as to how these individuals can be born.  Many are born seeming in every way  to be female but may be found later to have inverted testes, high testosterone levels, no ovaries, no womb, a myriad of combinations.  This can be revealed  during an examination after missed or no menses or in an attempt to become pregnant.  The female  may have lived as and felt  like a female. Then there are the more obvious cases found at birth and thus the assignment that has to be made.   Personally, I could not imagine but I would definitely understand how one such person would feel about themselves and why the medical world decides to define and assign them. Now the term Hermaphrodite has been replaced with Sexually Interchanged or Intersex.  Since the world is making so many concessions for other groups, then these people should respectfully be classified as what they are. 

The Medical world, and the parents mean well in assignments but it's exactly what the Judges did to the South African Sprinter that makes it seem somehow wrong to assign them a particular sex and later for the person be taken to task for it. On the other hand it seems right too because the world can be cruel and we have to fit in.  It is a hard subject and no doubt a hard decision.  This condition is chromosonal, period.  It happens sometimes during gestation.  It's  cruel to attack individuals for this because one thing is certain: this physiological misplacement is definitely not their fault for it's indeed just that: physical.  It does not devoid them of their humanness .  They have no choices but to be assigned by the Professionals who do have their best interest  at heart but sometimes with tragic results.  If you have noticed, this group of people make  no demands for acceptance because their world has been shrouded in shame and whispers. Many of us have heard the whispers but did not know what to say, think or do. They are human in whatever definition the world or the medical world places on them. They are our brothers and sisters.  The South African woman said that she was proud of herself and that she knew who she was. Somehow, I was glad to hear that.  I didn't want to think that it would devastate her life to the point of giving up.  

Medical Transcription is definitely a challenge.  I found out so much and many of the things I found out were quite disturbing.  Is it possible to love what you do and also be afraid of the huge knowledge base and findings you have to deal with?  I think so because I ultimately changed that aspect of my career.   But I do know that I sometimes think and pray for the then eleven year girl and how her life has been for her and the South African young woman.  I just hope that the world let them live their lives in the dignity that we all deserve. Peace.

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