Intersexed conditions & marriage/sex

I just watched this video: youtube.com/watch?v=I9a1rXOpIuc

All these cases are interesting to me, but particularly Katie, the first person in this show who has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. She has an XY chromosome and had testes within the body that never descended. Because her body was insensitive to the male hormones produced by her testes she looked like a girl and was raised as a girl. She also developed a female identity as do most people with this condition. (Interestingly, there is a very similar condition in which a person with an XY chromosome who appears female develops a male gender identity instead: 5a-Reductase deficiency). She has no uterus. At age 18 her internal testes were removed. She was treated with hormone therapy to undergo a female puberty. She has had three boyfriends.

I am not sure the church has a clear position on how intersexed people are to deal with their bodies. Tia Michelle Pesando is an intersexed preson who lived as a male, transitioned to a female expression, and she is now preparing to enter the cloister, a Carmelite Convent. Her condition or previous life as a male has not barred her entry. (The article I linked to refers to this woman as transgendered, but note that this is not exactly correct though there are similarities.)

Back to Katie with androgen insensitivity syndrome. She clearly has a female identity as do most people born with this condition and her body has the form of a vagina even though she has no uterus and originally had testes internally. Nevertheless her body was still ambiguous. One might argue that she does not have a “real” vagina. Does this mean that she cannot marry? That it is sinful or even homosexual that she dates men as most people with this condition do?

On the other hand, if she cannot marry or have sexual relations with me because of her genes, is it licit for her to marry and have relations with a woman even though outwardly her genitals have always resembled a vagina?

Or can she not marry at all? She is obligated to remain celibate for her entire life as the church seems to have declared for gay people? Is this person a male or female?

If she was baptized female, would the church not ever let her change the certificate to male? I suppose she cannot be ordained?

I know this is a complicated issue and I’ve asked a lot of questions, but I’d like to get perspectives on this as I am having trouble integrating some of these things I have learned in my education and on my own with a simple binary view of gender identity and probably simply won’t be able to. I ask that people please not troll or say hateful things about people with intersexed conditions or the transgendered or gay/lesbian/bisexual community. It may be that there is simply no clear teaching on someone with an intersexed condition like this.

Well in Kate’s case she’s a woman but an infertile one since she lacksa a uterus and she’s heterosexual so I would say of she made her husband aware of her history and her inability to have children she could Marry she isn’t gay or transgender she is a intetsex person meaning she was born with testes and a vagina its not like she was raised male then removed her penis and underwent hormone therapy to become a woman she was born that way

I believe the XY chromosome is the determining factor. If a person is XY, then I think that person is a he and should be referred to as a he. I believe such a person could theoretically be ordained, though the bishop would probably decline to ordain an XY who looked like a woman, due to the confusion that could result.

I don’t think an XY could marry if he lacked a penis, because I think you have to be physically capable of penile penetration to validly marry.

I think an XY could probably enter a female Convent if he got permission and if he looked like a woman and had no sexual desire for females, but I don’t think such a person could take the title “sister” or “mother” because that would seem to deny their sexual identity.

He could probably also enter a male Monastery, supposing he got permission.

I see that you both came to the opposite conclusion. In one conclusion the outer form is considered the determining factor of gender and sex, in the other it is genes. But what makes either of those factors conclusive?

In the case of the intersexed person who is entering the Carmelites, Tia Michelle Pesando, it seems it was left up to her how to express her gender. As for marriage, some intersexed people can have sex in the usual way and others cannot. Whether Katie (the person with AIS) can marry as the church understands it would depend on what her gender actually is, but I know of no definitive conclusion by the church.

I don’t believe you can marry if it is know there is no way to reproduce. Having sex isn’t the issue its the reproduction and bringing forth of life that makes a marriage legitimate.

Is this a catholic teaching? at least in the broader sense. I know there are women who have had childhood diseases/accidents that have rendered them unable to reproduce. Can they not marry according to the church?

This is incorrect.

Can. 1084 §1.** Antecedent and perpetual impotence** to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature.

§2. If the impediment of impotence is doubtful, whether by a doubt about the law or a doubt about a fact, a marriage must not be impeded nor, while the doubt remains, declared null.

§3.** Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage**, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1098.

As in the case of Caster Semenya who was raised a girl but then years later (at the Olympics and World games) it is found she is actually XY. She is now married to a woman in South Africa.
It took the athletic world by storm because actually being genetically a male has definite advantages in sports when you are competing against females. It hardly counts as cheating though if you didn’t know.
But I am interested though how would the church treat such a case, where years after you find out you are actually the opposite sex?

The problem with this argument is that we don’t do routine chromosome checks on every child born.
It’s declared just by looking at an ultrasound or looking at the genitals when a child is born. If she looked like a she…then that is what she is.

People who have chromosomal abnormalities can literally go their entire lives without knowing they have an abnormality.

Men who have an extra X chromosome may not know until they try to have children and are unable to.
Same with women who are missing an X chromosome.

In Katie’s case…no one thought to look into genetic abnormalities until they discovered she wasn’t reaching puberty…and wasn’t menstruating. This could be upwards of age 15 or 16 for a woman before a pediatrician would start encouraging parents to look into genetic counseling.
That is a very long time to identify as a female. She couldn’t just change her entire identity at the age of 16 from female to male…just because she has an XY chromosome she and her family didn’t know about until they did extensive research.

Dear Merrik,
Katy was born in this situation. Her testes were internal and the hormones would confuse the external picture that God gave her. He gave her a vagina. The fact that she has an XY chromosome make up is confusing but her sculpted body is female. It would have been harder to make her into a male. As long as her future husband is aware and the church is informed, there should no problem. We are to marry to procreate but I know a sweet, young girl. She was a childhood friend of my youngest daughter and she developed cervical cancer and had to have all her female parts removed. She can’'t have children. The church would not keep her from marrying. They could adopt just as Katy and her spouse can adopt. Now, this is different from transgender mutilation. God loves us all but not our sins. This free for all sex-anything you want stuff is out of control. May God clear our mind, hearts and spirits. May we not feel hate. Confusion is definitely there. God can only bring clarity. Souls are in danger not for hemaphrodites (easier to express than the new term) but God did not smile kindly on homosexuality that would cross over to transgender identity crises. The answer would be if you have a boy body and XY chromosomes, you are a male. If you feel like a female, take male hormones, go to counseling and desensitize the female tendencies. But I was told where I could go w those thoughts. Also, prayer-lots of prayer.
in christs love
tweedlealice

How do you know it is really a vagina? It could just as easily be called an undeveloped part of a male body because the genes did not blueprint a vagina but rather a penis which is why there was no uterus and there were testes. There are so many factors that go into one’s biological sex that I don’t think we can reduce it or gender to only one element like genes.

Transsexuals are different, but considering all the things that can go wrong along the way there might be a similarity. Some studies already indicate differences in the hypothalamus.

Gays and lesbians are different from both intersexed and transgendered people, but if gay sex is always wrong and there is no objective criteria for the sex of someone with AIS then they must remain celibate. That is merely my logical deduction. Not that I don’t feel like something is wrong with this conclusion but I feel that way about the Church’s sexual ethics in general.

On the bulk of your post, I don’t believe the Church has tried to specify how its teachings are to be applied to a person of seriously ambiguous sexuality.

But in regard to the quote above, the Church teaches chastity, not celibacy. [You may view this as a difference without distinction, but there are cases of persons experiencing same sex attraction, yet marrying a person of the opposite sex.] The point is, a person desiring only same sex sexual relations is not forbidden marriage.

That appears true. And I want to be clear that I do not think so highly of myself as to suppose that everyone must agree with me. If someone thinks the chromosomal factor is not the determining factor, I’m fine with that, but I think it is for reasons I’ll get to in a moment.

In one conclusion the outer form is considered the determining factor of gender and sex, in the other it is genes. But what makes either of those factors conclusive?

One reason why I think genes are the determining factor is because I think they fare better when compared with other physiological evidence. If I wanted to know how an architect wanted his house to look, two of the things I could look at would be the original blueprints and the structure as it stands today.

If there was a discrepancy, I think the blueprints would be more authoritative for what was in the original designer’s mind, because the structure as it stands today could have been changed or messed up by the construction company or by subsequent remodelings.

In the same way, I think that if we want to know what God’s original intention was for a given person, the better thing to look at would be the DNA because I think those are pretty close to God’s blueprints. If the subsequent design deviates from the blueprints, then perhaps that means something went wrong in the construction (the mother’s womb, hormone misfirings) or in subsequent remodelings (sex-change operations, hormonal supplements).

I hope that makes sense.

In the case of the intersexed person who is entering the Carmelites, Tia Michelle Pesando, it seems it was left up to her how to express her gender.

I assume Tia is XY, but I’m not really sure. If Tia is XY, then I think Tia is a he, so I’ll use that pronoun to refer to him.

If I’m understanding your explanation correctly, I think someone made a mistake in deciding that Tia gets to decide his own sexual identity. I believe the Church calls us to accept the sexual identity as man or woman given to us by God.

CCC 2393 says: “By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.” (source)

I think this paragraph indicates that each human being is made male or female by God, and that is their firm and unchangeable sexual identity. I do not think that is compatible with the view that we can choose our sexual identity. I do not see anywhere that the Church has said how to determine someone’s sexual identity if there are ambiguities, but above this paragraph I have given my reasons for thinking that genetic evidence is definitive wherever it is available.

As for marriage, some intersexed people can have sex in the usual way and others cannot.

Are there XX people with sexually operative male parts? I’m not sure, but I doubt it, and one reason is, I don’t think the XX gene code can give rise to testes and sperm cells. I’d like to know more, though. The same goes for XY people: Do any XY people have sexually operative female parts? Again, I doubt it in part because I don’t think the XY gene code can give rise to ovaries and egg cells. If you have more data about this, I’d love to get more info about it.

Whether Katie (the person with AIS) can marry as the church understands it would depend on what her gender actually is, but I know of no definitive conclusion by the church.

I think I’m basically agreed with this sentence.

Yes this is true. Some gay and lesbian people can be happily married because marriage does not have to be about a particular form of romantic love. This is why a gay person can truly renounce marriage in a vow for instance.

However, some gay people simply will not have the ability to marry someone of the opposite sex. To do so is psychologically traumatic to some of them and in some cases they will not be able to consummate the marriage because their bodies will not respond physiologically in the proper manner.

And no one is obligated to do so of course.

Overall this makes sense except that while you claim each person is either a male or female and you determine sex by the genes, there are some people whose gene codes do not fit into any category. Some have an XXY or just a Y. Some have XX and XY in different cells throughout the body. And I still think there is a danger of elevating the genes (the blueprint) above how the person actually developed. Most persons with androgen insensitivity syndrome look female when born, they are raised that way, they identify that way, and they date men. Their overwhelming experience is that of being female. However, persons born with 5a-Reductase deficiency are born looking female and raised that way and at puberty their testicles often descend and they go on to become men and usually date women. They seem to have little difficulty transitioning to a male identity and lifestyle unlike the former case. In both cases there are male genes and a female looking body. Persons with each condition have testes. But something is different because one usually develops a heterosexual female gender identity and the other a heterosexual male gender identity. Differences like this, possibly related to hormones or any combination of complex factors that go into sex and gender, cannot simply be reduced to genes to determine a person’s true gender, at least not without ignoring a crucial difference in the two intersexed conditions I just mentioned. This difference indicates to me that the development of gender identity is more complex than merely looking at a person’s genes. Other physiological factors are involved in that that seem to me at least as important. Can we completely ignore the person’s experience of his/her gender identity and the other physiological elements that have helped create that just because of what the genes look like? And what if the genes themselves are ambiguous?

I know of no persons with XX genes and operable male sex organs or vice versa, but some intersexed people have both ovaries and testes. Some of them can reproduce through artificial means, possibly with either eggs or sperm, but I’m not sure as there are so many different conditions. I don’t know if any people with these conditions can be fertile or not without medical aid, but it is something I will try to find out. A list of intersexed conditions can be found here.

I agree. I think the point you are making with this sentence is partly undermined, however, because ordinarily there isn’t any ambiguity. When there is ambiguity, then it is much more likely that the doctors will do a genetic test – unless I’ve misunderstood something.

I think the major difference with “Katy” was that the doctors didn’t think there was any ambiguity, at least not at first. I think they genuinely thought he was female because he had a skin formation that looked like a vagina. Still, I don’t think that would make him a female, because I don’t think it Was a vagina.

It’s declared just by looking at an ultrasound or looking at the genitals when a child is born. If she looked like a she…then that is what she is.

I don’t think that follows because of the following counterargument. The counterargument uses a hypothetical person called Hypothetical Arnold Schwarzenegger, which I will abbreviate as H.A.S.

Premise 1. If someone looks like a she then that person is a she.
Premise 2. H.A.S. goes through sexual reassignment surgery. Now he looks like a she.
Conclusion. H.A.S. is a she.

The conclusion appears to follow from the premises, but it is absurd. Therefore, one of the premises must be wrong. But premise 2 is defensible: hypothetically, Arnold Schwarzenegger could go through sexual reassignment surgery and look like a she. Therefore, premise 1 must be wrong: if someone looks like a she, then they are not necessarily a she.

What do you think of that counterargument from a logical perspective? Remember, if the premises are correct and no logical fallacies are made, then the conclusion is necessarily true. I think that proves that a person can look like a she and not be a she. If not, what is the logical problem with the argument?

People who have chromosomal abnormalities can literally go their entire lives without knowing they have an abnormality.

Men who have an extra X chromosome may not know until they try to have children and are unable to.
Same with women who are missing an X chromosome.

I think I agree, except I think XX people are not men in fact, and I think XY people are not women in fact. I think they only appear to be because something went wrong in their sexual development.

In Katie’s case…no one thought to look into genetic abnormalities until they discovered she wasn’t reaching puberty…and wasn’t menstruating. This could be upwards of age 15 or 16 for a woman before a pediatrician would start encouraging parents to look into genetic counseling.
That is a very long time to identify as a female. She couldn’t just change her entire identity at the age of 16 from female to male…just because she has an XY chromosome she and her family didn’t know about until they did extensive research.

I think I mostly agree, except I don’t think “Katy” would be Changing his sexual identity by starting to identify as male. I think “Katy” was male the whole time, but simply didn’t know it due to extreme sexual ambiguities.

I hope that makes sense. Let me know what you think.

Having watched the video I can’t perceive a basis to see Katie as anything other than an infertile woman. Clearly, at conception, one would have predicted she would have developed into a man. But, due to some biological failure, the androgen did not get to do its thing - all we can say is that had it done so, she would likely have developed into an unambiguous man.

As we know, there are many of these ‘variations’. Katie’s is in some sense “less” difficult than many - she feels, looks and functions (albeit infertile) as a woman. I can see no reason why she could not validly marry a man, subject to being open about her infertility.

I am not aware of any actual cases of such an abnormality. I’m not sure it is biologically possible for a human to survive such a genetic anomaly. If you are aware of people who are actually XXY, or just Y, please let me know, as I’d love to know more. But I think I’ve heard that people who bring up such examples don’t actually have any real-world examples, and I wonder if that’s even biologically possible in the current development of the human genome.

Some have XX and XY in different cells throughout the body.

That seems more likely to me. I’ve heard that it is possible for people to fuse with their siblings in utero. I wonder which individual “survives” in that case, and I wonder how we could determine the answer to that question. I think it is clear that such a person is one person with one soul. I think it follows that he or she is merely using the cells of their sibling. Moreover, I think it follows that the fusion of embryos involves the death of one sibling upon being fused into the other, but it is strange since parts of each body continue to survive, animated by one soul.

Anyway, back to “intersexuality”: in a case where an embryonic fusion occurs, and the resulting embryo develops both male parts and female parts, I still don’t think the individual actually determines their own sex. I think that either the male survived and absorbed some of the female’s cells, or the female survived and absorbed some of the male’s cells.

We may not be able to decide which one survived and which died using current technology, and I wouldn’t judge the individual for “deciding” to express themselves as a girl or as a boy, depending on how he or she feels at the time of the decision, but I don’t think the decision would be the determining factor, and I do think they should try to make an informed decision and stick with it. I think the determining factor would be, which embryo’s soul survived the fusion, and which one departed from the body?

Again, we might not be able to determine the answer to that question right now using current technology, but I think that logically the above solution preserves the either-male-or-female teaching of the Church (assuming I’ve understood it correctly) while also accounting for the physiological data.

I hope that makes sense.

I still think there is a danger of elevating the genes (the blueprint) above how the person actually developed.

I think that is legitimate because of the arguments given in one of my posts in this thread. But again, I don’t demand that everyone agree with me, so long as they make a serious attempt to follow the Church’s teaching. I think genes are the determining factor and physical appearance is not. I think that a careful use of logic illustrates this, and I would love to know how people with a different perspective would answer the logical syllogism I posted earlier. But if someone comes to a different conclusion, and still believes in Church doctrine, good for them.

From these words I infer that the people you are talking about with androgen insensitivity syndrome are XY. Is that right? Because to me, unless one of my arguments in this thread was invalid, that seems to imply that they are actually male and are merely confused (understandably) about their sexual identity. But I don’t think that makes them female.

However, persons born with 5a-Reductase deficiency are born looking female and raised that way and at puberty their testicles often descend and they go on to become men and usually date women.

If I’m understanding you correctly, I don’t think they “became” men. I think they started looking like men, but were already men because they were XY. Am I missing something, or does that sound like a legitimate possibility?

They seem to have little difficulty transitioning to a male identity and lifestyle unlike the former case. In both cases there are male genes and a female looking body.

That’s what I thought.

Persons with each condition have testes.

Okay, that sounds like more evidence that they are actually males and can’t change that.

But something is different because one usually develops a heterosexual female gender identity and the other a heterosexual male gender identity.

I don’t think we get to develop our identity, and I wonder if we are defining the term differently. I think our sexual identity cannot change. One reason why is, I think the Catechism implies that it can’t change. What do you think?

Differences like this, possibly related to hormones or any combination of complex factors that go into sex and gender, cannot simply be reduced to genes to determine a person’s true gender, at least not without ignoring a crucial difference in the two intersexed conditions I just mentioned.

I think one can account for the XY person who always looks female and acts female by positing some relatively stable confusion about their sexual identity. I think one can account for the XY person who changes from looking and acting female to looking and acting male by positing that they started out confused about their sexual identity and ended up resolving that confusion. In both cases, as long as the genes are XY I think you can reasonably conclude that they are both male without ignoring their different looks, behaviors, and development. Does that make sense?

This difference indicates to me that the development of gender identity is more complex than merely looking at a person’s genes.

I think the origin of sexual identity might be even more simple than looking at a person’s genes, and I don’t think it develops, not if I understand that term correctly. But I do think genes are a definitive indicator. Again, if someone disagrees with me, I’m okay with that, as long as they try their best to believe and apply Church doctrine.

Other physiological factors are involved in that that seem to me at least as important. Can we completely ignore the person’s experience of his/her gender identity and the other physiological elements that have helped create that just because of what the genes look like?

I don’t think I’ve ignored them by saying that they are not determining factors. You can deal with them on another basis than by asserting that they determine a person’s sex. For example, you can deal with them by treating them as causes of sexual identity confusion, which I think can possibly mitigate a person’s responsibility for thinking that they belong to the wrong sex. But even if those other factors mitigate a person’s responsibility for thinking they are the wrong sex, I don’t think they actually mean they are in the wrong sex.

These are long sentences, I hope they make sense.

And what if the genes themselves are ambiguous?

I think I dealt with that in my last post.

I know of no persons with XX genes and operable male sex organs or vice versa, but some intersexed people have both ovaries and testes. Some of them can reproduce through artificial means, possibly with either eggs or sperm, but I’m not sure as there are so many different conditions. I don’t know if any people with these conditions can be fertile or not without medical aid, but it is something I will try to find out. A list of intersexed conditions can be found here.

Thank you for the data, it is a fascinating field of study and I think further research will clarify things.

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