5-alpha-reductase deficiency and marriage


What is the Catholic Church’s position on people who have 5-alpha-reductase deficiency getting married? The have XY chromosomes and testicles, but they also have a vaginia and labia. They also usually have something that is between a clitoris and a penis which is sometimes capable of ejaculation. This all applies after they reach puberty. Often they are taken as entirely female at birth and are raised as girls.

So, who can these people marry? Men or woman? They don’t fit in any neat biological definition of male or female.



As I understand it, the Church teaches that a man must be funtionally male, but he doesn’t have to be fertile. A woman doesn’t need to be fertile in order to marry, either, but merely able to function as a female. If there are any other requirements, others no doubt will give you the answer or the source for it.


OK, but a lot of these people can function (if I understand what you mean) as both male (can get an erection and penetrate) or female (they have a vaginia that can be penetrated).


As long as such a person picks one sex and sticks to it, and sticks to one spouse at a time, the person would certainly be able to have sex in a perfectly normal and chaste way. So as long as the spouse was willing to overlook a few vestigial body parts, I don’t think the Church would stand in the way of marriage. (Though I suspect marriage preparation would have to be very thorough in such a case, to prevent future heartbreak.)


My guess is it would come down to the presence of the X chromosome.

X chromosome technically means you are male…

Would someone in this condition have a male psychological makeup?


All humans have an X chromosome. Do you mean a Y chromosome? Determining sex by chromosomes is not completely accurate. Do you think people with androgen insensitivity syndrome are really male. What people that are the result of chimerism who XX and XY cells?

Would someone in this condition have a male psychological makeup?

Most are raised as female, because that is how they appear before puberty. But at puberty lots of things change including how they view themselves.


Is this just your opinion or are you basing it on any specific teachings of the Catholic Church?


It has probably been dealt with before, but is so rare that the issue is not common knowlege. In otherwords the vast majority of the posters on this forum, including myself, don’t need to know what the Church teaches regarding this.

If you’re speaking in “hypothetical” terms, in order to further understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality - this thread probably belongs to the Moral Theology section.

If you or an aquaintence are in a real-life situation such as this, then I suppose either Family Life or Moral Theology would be appropriate.

The church’s teaching is based on natural law. What you are speaking of, though it occurs “in nature”, is considered an anomaly, or a “freak” to use an unkind term.

The Church teaches that people with homosexual tendency’s are called to celebacy. That’s interesting because She’s teaching that they should not be married, even to a member of the opposite sex as frequently happens. In other words, a person may be physically healthy w/ respect to their sexuality, but because of a mental defect they should not be married at all.

Perhaps this also applies to the 5-alpha-reductase deficiencies. If they are physically capable of consummating the vows, but have some mental confusion over who they are, and who they are attracted to, perhaps they best not get married.

No that’s my speculation based on teaching regarding homosexuality. Also note that I’m not certain if the Church teaches that “homosexuals are called to celebacy” then She officially will not allow a homosexual to marry - even a person of the opposite sex.


It is my understanding - although I have nothing to back me up or to point too - that Church teaching is that androgynous people are not able to get married.

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