Intersexuality


#1

Where do intersexuals fall in Catholic moral theology? I mean there is a place for females and a place for males, but what about those who have been born with parts of both sexual organs? If we are body, soul, and spirit, and are created either female or male, how then do intersexuals know which one they are in order that they can fulfill God’s plan for them through marriage or perhaps the priesthood? There is all this talk about God’s plan for male and female genders, but what about others?


#2

The church doesn’t recognize that transsexuals exist, much less intersex people.


#3

Are they invisible then?

They have both a penis and a vagina,
or at least the inner repro organs of both.

So, where do they fit, and how do they
determine who/what they are?


#4

I think some other threads concluded that those who are intersexed are not allowed to marry in the church because science cannot say whether they are male or female.

As for moral theology in the Church, they fall in the same place as everyone: called to chastity and to love God and one’s neighbor.


#5

I think that god has a plan for every human being that he creates. Even though the church does not recognize this individual it does not mean that god does not. Whatever path god leads these people in whether its being with a man or woman god knows how they will fit into the world.


#6

So then, what class would this person attend, church wise?
Single women? Single men?

Why can the church not ‘recognise’ that intersexuality exists?
It’s a scientific fact. You can see the difference.


#7

I saw several TV shows about intersexuality, and asked my doctor about them. He merely commented, “In human sexuality, things are seldom what they seem.”

It strikes me as basically a medical issue.


#8

Medical in the physical sense, but also having enormous attachment to the mind.

I saw several TV shows about intersexuality, and asked my doctor about them. He merely commented, “In human sexuality, things are seldom what they seem.”

That’s an excellent quote, and the epitome of scientific truth.


#9

And yet, it is a human issue… one which is lived out everyday. The Church’s position on this matter is very relevant.


#10

Intersexuallity is an interesting condition, but one that is explainable. If they have the sexual organs of both sexes, it is because they are actually one sex, but a fraternal twin of the opposite sex was also conceived, but the embryos got too ‘comfy’ with each other, and melded, and the only thing remaining of the second twin is what would have been their genitalia. Hopefully, with some genetic tests, the true gender of the person can be determined, and their genitalia ‘fixed’ to match.

Those with ambiguous genitalia are either male or female, but were exposed somehow (either by the mother ingesting them or their body erroneously producing them) to the sex hormones of the opposite sex. Again, a genetic test should reveal with gender they actually are, and their genitalia ‘fixed’ to match.

The problem in the past has been first, no access to genetic tests, and second, arbitrary decisions by doctors to assign a sex based on penis/clitoris length, without stopping to check which one it actually was. These people’s quarrels should lie with the doctors who didn’t help them, or arbitrarily altered them without their permission.

As far as the Church is concerned, I’m not sure if there is any official teaching, but any intersexual person should strive to find what God’s vocation for them is. It may not be marriage (“Some are born eunuchs…”), but God has something in store for them, and loves them no matter what.


#11

There is another detailed thread probing certain issues here.


#12

If this is true, I am extremely confused. As a Lutheran, I had no problem with there being intersexuals, it was a fact of life, but it seems like it would go against Catholic teaching. It has bothered me because it would seem like it would go against the Traditional teaching of man and woman. I wish that there would be more talk about it in a theological standpoint, because, after all it does exist. In my mind, it seems like the equivalent of heliocentrism and evolution.

I think some other threads concluded that those who are intersexed are not allowed to marry in the church because science cannot say whether they are male or female.

That would make sense, but at the same time, it is a little disheartening–a person just does not have as many choices. But then again, we are all called to a life either of marriage, religious consecration, or singlehood (if that is a word :p), and these people’s vocations are just a little more obvious.


#13

thanks for the link


#14

Chromosomes are hardly the only answer, nor the correct one.

I have XX, XXY and XY chromosomes in my body. I did NOT absorb a twin, this has been determined. It just happens sometimes, randomly.

Also, there are men who are XX, and women who are XY and never know it, some are sterile, but a very few are even fertile. There was one incident of a woman testing XY and being kicked out of the olympics a decade or two ago…but she gave birth the very next year.

Just because chromosomes give a particular answer does not mean it is the right answer. It is a very complicated problem, with no single solution that will catch all issues. Sex determination is simply too complex.

I was altered at the advice of priests, not my doctors. My doctors said I was fine, the priests said otherwise.


#15

Upon reading various threads on this forum on intersexuality, I am left puzzled by some of the assumptions and perspectives I’ve seen. I don’t really know how to formulate my questions, so if you’d all bear with me, I’d like to write out my thought processes and perhaps we can go from there?

Thus far on the forum, all of the intersexed persons have spoken of a clear identification with one gender within a set of two; meaning, they feel that they are either profoundly male or profoundly female psychologically. I have yet to hear a person talk about feeling profoundly unique in terms of their category of person. Meaning, none seem to identify as a true androgynous person, accepting both “male” and “female” traits as a cohesive whole with corresponding mind/soul to that physical state. One person, assumed not an intersexual, mentioned “angelic soul” as a possible perspective, but this perspective, it seemed to me, was dismissed by the people here. I’d like to know why.

In addition, I think it is relevant to point out that that (at least it seems to me) the persons here have felt that their intersexuality was a mistake or error of nature. (Please forgive me if I have completely misinterpreted.) Not so much that they think God erred, but that their physicality does not accurately correspond to their inner experience–that they have an “inner person” that is in conflict (for whatever scientific reason) with the “outer person”. None here seem to claim to possess an inner nature of intersexuality that corresponds to the outer-physical intersexuality. They all seem to unanimously proclaim a disconnect.

I haven’t studied this subject, but I’m wondering if there are persons who really self-identify as a TRUE third category and feel that they are totally androgynous in mind and body? I think this is really important, and I shall attempt to explain why…

Thus far all of the talk has been about “this third category of person” that the Church hasn’t “admitted to” and is “pushing aside.”

What I find even more difficult for me to understand is why people are talking about intersexuality as being in God’s plan. The following statements are just me trying to understand, and if I contain any errors of fact, please do not be offended, and instead correct me. I’m really trying to bring more light to the situation I always thought that it was part of Catholic doctrine to understand that the world, as we live in it now, is in a fallen, broken state. Original sin isn’t just an inner brokenness. Nature’s order and balance has been disrupted too. Even though God, in his infinite glory, knows how to use all brokenness toward ultimate Good, that is not to say that God willed it or created it as thus. For example, I thought it was correct to say that God doesn’t will/create genetic mutations and diseases. These are supposed to be seen as evidences of the fallen state of the world. Why not look at intersexuality like any other genetic, medical mutation?

Personally, I’m completely unbiased and open on this topic. I could see how the reality could be either way; either a) that there could exist a true third category of person, created by God, who is both physically and spiritually intersexed, or b) that intersexuality is a physical deformity, and spiritually their are only female and male souls, or c) both A and B could be possible.

I think the Church is right to not have an definitive answer on this topic, as it looks like even among the people who even KNOW of this situation (the intersexed people themselves), there doesn’t seem to be total agreement or understanding.I’m sure the transgender phenomenon as added greatly to the inability to understand the situation. It’s obvious the Church, as a body of lay and religious people, is not doing a great job of getting to the bottom of it. But really, only if truly androgynous persons exist (in body and soul), are any real problems posed for the Church. (As far as I can tell.)

Because, if the intersexed people are claiming not to be truly intersexed in body & spirit, inner and outer capacities, but actually possessing a disconnect of body and soul, and identify with the same male/female genders, then it seems logical to me that we would, no matter how difficult it might be, look at intersexuality as a deformity of the intended order of nature and not a new, third category. IF that is the case, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to endure that. Similarly, I can’t imagine what it would be life to be born with any other physical deformity that would alienate or preclude a person from functioning as other “normal” persons do, be it Siamese twins, severe cerebral palsy, or anything.

IF it is a case of broken nature, is it really the Church that is “forbidding” the person from marriage or is it nature? If, by definition, marriage is a physical union and a spiritual union, and physical union is not possible, then how could a marriage possibly exist? Intersexed people, correct me if I’m wrong, don’t seem to be asking the Church to redefine sexuality so much as they are asking the Church to redefine marriage. For, the intersexed people here seem to uphold the binary sexuality distinction. What is disputed, is whether the definition of marriage should include the distinct characteristic of physical consumation. It seems that they may be asking the Church to accept a spiritual marriage and lifestyle commitment to be “enough” to consider it a valid marriage, and not require the physical marriage. (Continued)


#16

(Continued from above)

This is a question that many people, not just the intersexed, grapple with. I know of a woman with SAD (Sexual Aversion Disorder) who really wants to marry, but who just doesn’t want to have sex. No, she wasn’t abused, doesn’t seem to have any other psychological imbalances, etc. But again, she has some abnormality of mind that prevents physical marriage and thus “valid marriage” as the Church defines it.

With one person, it seemed as if the intersexuality did not prevent consummation, and that person was validly married. In another person, I couldn’t tell if the impediment to marriage was inability to consummate, or just the Church refusing to accept their true gender, and thus her relationship was dealt with as if a homosexual attempt to marry.

**I guess all of my babbling gets to my opinion that we can’t answer to the problem because we haven’t even formulated the question! ** Do we need the Church to more clearly define the categories of persons to include a third type that’s truly androgynous/intersexed and what role they have in the Church, or do we need the Church to more clearly define why physical, sexual consummation is the only valid form of physical union?


#17

Who said the church doesn’t recognize them ?

They do recognize them, and they know the exist, obviously. They don’t live under a rock. They are called to live a life of chastity, as far as I know, but don’t quote me on that one, infact, don’t ever quote me.


#18

I never said the Church didn’t recognize them as existing. I said the Church doesn’t recognize a third category of gender, and instead is trying to still find a way to categorize intersexed persons as either male or female.

And, if their intersexuality doesn’t impede sexual consummation in marriage, and they at least self-identify as a specific gender, I don’t think the Church demands chastity.


#19

I have several friends who identify as a third gender/sex. Quite a few actually, and there is a movement. Why aren’t any of them here? Because in general all of them are atheists/new age religion believers because they were shunned and outcast even more than myself from Christianity. They gave up on the Church utterly and found their own path because they felt so unwelcome.


#20

The “third gender” is a term that not only has no clear and easy definition, but the definition varies from individual to individual. In the case of intersexed people, this is more common, but it is not limited to those who were born bi-gender or tri-gender, or even gender-neutral.


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