If it is so rare, why all the fuss? In fact, Ms. Toynbee was reviewing a programme about an intersexed child and, as the programme pointed out, the condition may affect around 1 in 1000, not one in fifteen thousand people. Transsexuals are not always clinically intersexed, and intersexed people do not always see themselves as transgendered.
We have quoted some statistics from Bancroft in previous sections, and we have gleaned some more from the Intersex Society of North America, estimates provided by Dr. Fausto-Sterling.(1)
There are some quite remarkable figures here. Although they are shown as distinct conditions, there is considerable blurring and variation between one individual and another. There is also, of course, considerable variation in different parts of the population.
Putting it another way two intersexed babies are born each week in the United Kingdom. This compares with other developmental problems such as cleft palate, or genetic problems such as Downs Syndrome. Yet health professionals and parents find it very difficult to find information about it, and those who specialise in this area are seen as a rather bizarre group of fringe psychiatrists.
Most of the genetic and metabolic errors will give rise to genital malformation, but it would seem that many cases of ambiguous genitalia occur in the absence of evidence of more fundamental problems. Where the operation is simply cosmetic and the child is happy to grow up in its birth role, will be able to marry and have a family, can it truly be regarded as an intersex condition? It is all a matter of definition.
Or will we see a society where all sexual and gender statuses are respected?
Bland, J., (2002) About Gender: Some Statistics
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24.03.99 Last amended 16.01.02, 01.05.14