Church teaching on sex-change surgery for those who are born intersex?

Does the Church allow sex-change surgery for those who are born with both male and female body parts? Why, or why not?
I’m asking this because I just found a post online by someone who was born that way and is miserable.



Love your signature by the way. :slight_smile:

It’s not really a “sex change” surgery in this situation because the person is both.

You don’t really find that someone is “both” though.
Once DNA testing is done, they find out which gender the person truly is and the surgery can follow that. You won’t have both male and female - it can only be one or the other.


In some cases, there are “chimeras”, where a sibling of the opposite sex dies in utero, and his or organs are absorbed into the other sibling. It can create unreliable DNA tests, as some organs will have the siblings DNA.

Unless you’re a chimera. Then DNA testing isn’t fullproof. Lydia Fairchild case. Also, in 1953 a human chimera was reported in the British Medical Journal. A woman was found to have blood containing two different blood types. Apparently this resulted from cells from her twin brother living in her body. If you went by DNA sample you might assume she’s supposed to be male if it happened to get the twin brother cells. I wouldn’t mess w/ it tbh. If God made you that way… :shrug:

Edit: runningdude beat me to it. :stuck_out_tongue:

A person can actually have some cells being XY and others XX, they are called chimeras as other poster have pointed out.

DNA testing isn’t foolproof, as noted. However, in cases where someone has both male and female parts, surgery wouldn’t so much change their sex as make them appear to be the sex they already are. It’s like fixing other birth defects, and it’s not equivalent to being born one sex and wishing to become the other. I don’t think the church has a specific teaching on intersex persons, but I’m sure surgery would be allowed. :slight_smile:

I agree. I simply don’t know what else to call the surgery.

Thanks everyone for your responses!

I would be careful not to confuse the terms “gender” and “sex” as they are not the same. A person’s genotypic sex is determined by one’s chromosomes (XX or XY). Phenotypic sex relates to the appearance of one’s sexual organs. Gender refers to one’s identity and behavior with respect to one’s sex.

Decisions on what surgery, if any, should be performed on someone with a disorder of sexual development can be very difficult. The same considerations that are involved in other surgeries to correct other diseases involving sexual organs would apply in determining whether it is morally acceptable. DNA testing alone is not the sole factor that needs to be considered and even that can get pretty complex as the previous discussion on chimeras illustrates. There are people whose sex chromosomes are XX but contain a short piece of DNA (SRY) that leads to male parts forming. The important point is that the surgery is undertaken to correct a true disorder and the treatment itself is directed toward correcting the disorder. In most but perhaps not all circumstances the Church would deem this to be OK.

This differs from someone with a gender identity disorder who wishes to destroy their normally appearing and functioning genitalia and have the surgeon create the appearance of the opposite sex.

Thanks for the carification.

This is odd.

Usually someone born that way would have parents. Those parents would have had understanding of the problem and something may or may not have been done. This sounds fishy.

How old is this person?

When did they discover they were born this way?

What is the nature of the anomaly?

He/she said that his/her parents had surgery done to remove her female parts and that this made her miserable because she considers herself a woman and she can’t afford surgery to have it changed.

So then you are suggesting that this is a genetic male? Is this correct?

I would ask what is the anomaly and what parts were removed?

This is starting to make less sense than the original proposition.

I have no idea. I just telling you what he/she posted online on yahoo answers.

It sounds like we don’t know whether the person in question is genetically male or female, only that they were intersex to some degree and assigned male at birth.

Without knowing the person’s condition, it’s impossible to make a judgement call. However, I do think there are instances when corrective surgery would be allowed- such as if the person turns out to be a genetic female who was assigned male, or is ambiguous enough that it’s impossible to tell.

This is why standard practice is now to wait until the child can consent to surgery. That way, we avoid situations like this, where the parents/doctors may have guessed wrong.

What do they do in the meantime - preschool and kindergarten etc? :confused:

They’re raised as one gender or the other- you take your best guess. But you don’t alter the anatomy until later (or at least alter it as little as possible), because that’s much harder to correct if you’re wrong.

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