Sex Determination – Science and Society Intersectionality

We often look at things through a black and white lens, leading us to view much of the world in a binary system. However, with exposure to new information our understanding of how the world operates changes. For example, sexual orientation used to be viewed in a binary system, but our society has begun to understand and accept the fact that sexual orientation is more like a spectrum. An individual can be asexual, pansexual, bisexual, gay, heterosexual, etc. Although much efforts are still needed to be made, people are becoming more aware of this idea of a spectrum due to activism from the LGBT community and media coverage.

The same amount of efforts are needed to be made to bring attention and acknowledgement to how sex is a spectrum rather than a binary system. Our understanding of the world around us is influenced by the environment we grow up in, without conversation our understanding of the world won’t develop. Therefore, I feel that the individuals researching intersex and work with intersex patients have a responsibility to share their findings. My previous understanding of sex is that it was determined by if someone had either XX chromosomes or XY, and I had an idea of people who weren’t but wrongly labeled them an hermaphrodite. Now, knowing that individuals that aren’t typical males or females are actually referred to as intersex is important, because it validates those individuals and acknowledges that sex is actually a spectrum. In addition, I have become aware of the different biological factors that can affect if someone is male or female. Scientists have identified that are more than 25 genes that are involved with the different forms of disorders of sex development (DSDs), and that sex hormones and its signaling machinery also play a role. also play a role in one’s external genitalia.

If it wasn’t to being exposed to this new information my understanding of sex may have remained the same until someone shared this information with me. In order for society to become more accepting of the fact that individuals can have DSDs efforts from the science community need to be made. Rather than having procedures made the “normalize” a baby who was born with a DSDs, doctors should help the baby’s parents become more knowledgeable and direct them in a path to seek more information. If we continue to have procedures that individuals who were born intersex forced to associate with the sex given to them can cause mental distress. Having the conversation of intersex and sharing information is equally as important as allowing those individuals to choose their sex as they grow up. Actions like the ones mentioned can help shift society’s way of thinking, because in many situations societal norms aren’t accurate nor tell the whole picture.

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