What to do if your baby is hermaphrodite?

a) Do you wait till see if he-she behaves like a girl or boy and then have one of the organs remove?
b) You just don’t touch what God give him-her?
c) Other option - tell what would you do…

I’d go with a.

Most people go with option A. Usually with hermaphrodites there is more of one gender present than the other, especially as the child grows and develops. Just be careful to choose the gender that is best for the child rather than what you “want.” For example, there was a family who had all daughters and then the hermaphrodite, so they decided to “make” the child a boy because they wanted a son. But he ended up being very feminine and even developed breasts at puberty. Very sad.

Since I have first hand experience … God made us this way for His reasons. Let God continue to drive. I won’t expound on my life per- se but I will state there is vast ignorance in society about us. Love love love the child, leave nature alone and the child will tell you. Society has been conditioned to think in such a binary way in respect to gender, so one assumes we must be one or the other. I will say that in my life my choice has not ever been about what I am but rather who I will be and the greatest choice I’ve had to make was not about gender. But rather that I be more tolerant of others then they would ever be of me.

I have ZERO experience with this issue, but ^^^this sounds like a good plan.

If there’s ambiguous genitalia, what about doing DNA testing to see if there’s a Y-chromosome?

There is no such thing as someone being both male and female. A hermaphrodite will still be , genetically speaking, male or female. The external malformation is just that, a malformation, usually caused by a hormone inbalance. It is not possible to have both male and female “parts” that are true, functioning organs.

I think to allow such a child to grow up in sort of a white space so that they choose which way they want to be, would be really damaging. I remember reading somewhere about a couple in Canada who had a baby and refused to tell anyone the sex, because they planned to raise him/her in a gender neutral environment, in order to prove that gender identity is just a label assigned by society.

You also see little kids, usually boys, who seem effeminate. Do we say they are naturally gay, and therefore should be raised in an environmental that doesn’t resist against development one way or another? No, if anything these kids need extra attention early on to gently develop their personality and identity in accordance with their genetic assignment.

Is this a common problem?

Excellent idea.

As my one professor put it: there are no “true hermaphrodites”.

There is chresome mosaic disorder which a person can have both xx and xy chromesomes and sometimes xxy also. so maybe neither male nor female!

I think scientifically the person would still be classified as male or female. I just looked up this mosaicism and it is not that uncommon for it to occur in sex organ tissue; all it means is that some of the cells of one or more tissues differ genetically from the rest of the cells.

Generally, the presence of a Y chromosome indicates a male, and the absence of the Y chromosome indicates a female. So, XXY (Klinefelters Syndrome) is a male with an extra X chromosome. XO (Turners Syndrome) is a female who is missing a chromosome.

Setting science aside, it seems like from a perspective of faith, where we believe every single soul is created in the image and likeness of God, it sounds contrary to say there are some people who could be either male or female. Being male or female is the very foundation of identity and personality. Indeed, doesn’t Genesis say something like “male and female He created them”? Original Sin may have caused genetic complications like mosaicism, but there is still a core identity to that person, in my opinion.

I would be consulting with medical experts and priests, not people on the internet. :wink:

I don’t have any actual experience with this issue, but since I did a bit of research a few months ago for a school project, I might as well thow in my :twocents:

The accepted response is A, sort of. Provided the person’s sex is truly ambiguous, infant surgery is not advised. Milder intersex conditions can be treated in a more straightforward manner. If it’s impossible to tell, it is best to wait on surgery, to avoid picking the wrong sex.

However, raising the child as a “genderless” child is NOT advisable. Parents are advised to choose a gender and raise the child as that gender, without having surgery. If the child grows older and embraces their assigned gender, so much the better, and you may remove the extra parts. If the child does not act like the assigned gender or insists that they are being raised as the wrong gender, the child may have been raised as the wrong gender. That’s OK, and the parents can make the decision to start raising the child as the correct gender from that point on, eventually having an operation if it works out.

This is a good thing to do, but even genetic tests are not foolproof. For most conditions, the presence or absence of a Y chromosome will help in identifying the disorder. However, not everybody who has a Y chromosome is male. There are two rare conditions- Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and Swyer Syndrome- which result in girls with an XY genotype. There is also de la Chapelle Syndrome, which results in a male with XX chromosomes, but these individuals appear to be and identify as males, despite being infertile, so their parents probably won’t have trouble deciding to raise them as male.

CAIS and Swyer Syndrome don’t affect how the children are raised, since children with these conditions appear to be girls and continue to identify as such. However, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome represents a spectrum of intersex conditions ranging from males who are infertile to females who lack a uterus and ovaries. If someone has a severe form of Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, it may be impossible to tell. The individual should not be considered definitely male merely because they have a Y chromosome.

For all other conditions, to my knowledge, the above explanation is correct. AIS is the only intersex condition I have heard of where genitalia can be ambiguous and chromosomes are not neccessarily the best way to judge.

This part is just my opinion, but I tend to agree with this. The child is ultimately male or female, their sex is just not as readily apparent as it is for the rest of us. Such situations are rare, but they do exist, so we should have some guidelines for dealing with them.

If someone is actually in this situation, they need to speak with priests and doctors. If it was just idle curiosity, I hope the above helps. :slight_smile: Again, I don’t really know that much or have any firsthand experience- so if you really want good information, you’ll have to do some more research!

But children KNOW if they are male or female, they are naturally inclined to behave more male or female…and if your child is intersex (hermaphrodite is an old and offensive term) which is a medical condition they are born with which is completely out of their control, just looking at their external sexual organs is not going to tell you if their identity is going to be more male or female. You can’t change who they are as a person simply by telling them to be a boy if they are really a girl. They will always have the pain and conflict if you make the wrong decision at birth (and there have been many such documented cases). Gender isn’t just dependent on sex organs, rather it is a more complicated interplay of genetics and hormones too. I recently watched a documentary about a woman who discovered at the age of twenty that she was a genetic male (XY chromosomes) but she looked like a woman, she had internal testes rather than ovaries that never descended and were in fact atrophied, she had breasts, and she was 100% a girl in every way apart from her chromosomes. This is because she had a rare disorder that made her body completely unresponsive to male hormones (androgens), even as she was developing in the womb. This is why she never developed male sex organs or characteristics and only discovered this genetic anomaly after never getting periods, and when she was married she had investigations to discover why she was infertile. It’s a complicated issue and you can’t determine someone’s gender purely based on external organs or genes.

You are also making a judgement that “effeminate” boys must be gay. This is not the case at all- some very masculine men are prone to homosexual tendencies and likewise some more effeminate men are 100% heterosexual. Just as some women are more “girly girls” than others- it doesn’t mean that a girl who is more of a tomboy is a lesbian. There are also plenty of lesbian women who are very feminine. It is harmful to a child to judge them as being homosexual when they are not.

The other thing is, I think it should be the child’s choice, once he is she is old enough, to make a decision about whether or not he or she wants to alter what God have him or her. If a parent makes this decision, the child could be suffering with that for the rest of their earthly life if the decision turns out to be the wrong one.

Unless the body is incapable of responding to the Y chromosome - which is not uncommon in intersex people. If the body is totally incapable of responding chemically to the Y chromosome, the child will develop as a female, Y chromosome or not.

Best to consult with geneticists and Catholic ethicists instead of a public board. However, I believe the established protocol now is to just love your baby and wait to see which sexual characteristics develop. Some adults who were altered before this have extreme reactions to being “mutilated” against their will and before their true identity is formed. I can’t imagine how difficult this course would be for parents who are faced with, “is it a boy or girl” question by every stranger who wants to oooh and ahhhh over your precious child.

I believe their are support groups for families going through this.

The child is a blessing nonetheless and deserving of complete love and affection regardless.

(note: I believe the correct term is no longer hermaphrodite, but intersex. To use the outdated term may offend and hurt families dealing with this issue).

I think your story about the woman who was genetically a male but had physiology resembling a female, supports the argument that gender assignment should be ascertained by genetics, and not left to the child to figure out. Also, this story also supports that an outward. Medically speaking, when a boy has “girl parts” in appearance, it is classified as

Homosexuality is a sliding scale determined by a lack of personality development and sometimes augmented by hormonal imbalance. So a heterosexual man can have some homosexual proclivities. It doesn’t mean he wants to be with another man. Little children are not heterosexual or homosexual, really, because their sexual identity is latent during this period. I agree that most children (unless psychology disturbed) know that they are male or female. But their sexuality is forming during this time, and if a little boy is showing a predominance of effeminate interests or behaviors, a parent can gently steer the development of their personality in one direction or another.

The example of this that stands out in my mind is Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie’s daughter Shiloh. She’s been a “tomboy” for years, but in the form of always wearing boys clothes, boys haircut, and insisting on being called “John”. And her parents seem to relish it; my judgment but I think they want her to be gay. Is there any doubt that she is going to be either questioning her sexuality or believe she’s gay? Was this just inevitable, or could her parents have helped her discover her feminine identity?

Yeah. I don’t think genital surgery is usually performed on infants or very young children these days- there’s too great a risk of guessing incorrectly. I think it’s generally helpful if the child figures it out before puberty, though, since some conditions require hormone treatment to initiate puberty at all.

Sojo is 100% correct. The correct/current term definitely is intersex, not hermaphrodite.

I disagree. Seekingtruth’s description sounds exactly like a woman with CAIS. Individuals with CAIS are considered female. They look like women, think like women, and feel like women- which is because they are women. There is no reason to claim that these women are not female, merely because they have XY chromosomes.

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