In the 1920s a philosophy–not a medical discovery–made the arbitrary distinction between “gender sexual identity” and “biological sexual identity.” It was claimed that a person might develop a sexual identify different from the one in which they were born with because of environmental or cultural factors. The work of John Money at Johns Hopkins, now frequently discredited, followed within this philosophical and sociological framework.
The Intersex person is defined differently: the biological facts, present at birth, do not fit the discrete biology of a normal male or female. Because of many medical advances in the past 20 years, there have been many discoveries concerning biological differences in males and females beyond the presence or absence of a penis or vagina. Because of this, it is difficult for doctors, or anyone, to assert with certainty that this person is definitely a male or female.
The following medical conditions, in varying combinations, may be present in what is termed an Intersex person: 5-alpha reductase deficiency; androgen insensitivity syndrome, aphallia, clitoromegaly; congenital adrenal hyperplasia; gonadal dysgenesis; mosaicism regarding sex chromosomes; ovo-testes; progestin-induced virilization; Swyer syndrome; Turner syndrome; and Non-Klinefelter XXY.
There has been an interesting discussion on the manner in which the Intersex condition is understood within Catholic theology and canon law. This has occurred on “Catholic Answers,” the largest lay-run apostolate of Catholic apologetics and evangelization within the United States, operating with the permission of the Diocese of San Diego and listed in the current edition of The Official Catholic Directory. A reader with an Intersex condition wrote in and opened a discussion on one of the forums, “What is the Church’s position on the Intersexed and Transsexed?”
Another reader stated:
I want to act in accordance with Isaiah 56:3-5, but when I get different answers (or no answer at all) to the question about what is pleasing to God, then I must rely on my own conscience–and being a sinner, I’m terribly fallible.
Another reader notes: “A Vatican text defines transsexualism as a psychic disorder of those whose genetic make-up and physical characteristics are ambiguously of one sex but who feel they belong to the opposite sex.” Note that this does not define Intersex.
Here is what a reader identifying himself/herself as a canon lawyer with a JCD wrote: