Frequently Asked Questions

Here are ISNA’s answers to questions we are frequently asked. We’ve even provided a printer-friendly version of all the questions and answers, in case you want to print them all out for study.

What is intersex?

How common is intersex?

Intersex conditions

How do I know if I have an intersex condition?

5-alpha reductase deficiency

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS)


Clitoromegaly (large clitoris)

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

gonadal dysgenesis (partial & complete)


I have a line along the underside of my penis

Klinefelter Syndrome


mosaicism involving "sex" chromosomes

MRKH (Mullerian agenesis; vaginal agenesis; congenital absence of vagina)

ovo-testes (formerly called "true hermaphroditism")

Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS)

Progestin Induced Virilization

Swyer Syndrome

Turner Syndrome

What does ISNA recommend for children with intersex?

Does ISNA think children with intersex should be raised without a gender, or in a third gender?

What's wrong with the way intersex has traditionally been treated?

What do doctors do now when they encounter a patient with intersex?

Questions about Intersex Society of North America

Can ISNA refer me to a doctor, a counselor, or a support group?

Does ISNA run support groups or an e-mail list for people with intersex conditions?

What can I do to help ISNA?

What does ISNA do?

What is ISNA's mission?

Where is ISNA located?

Who are involved in ISNA?

How come many people have never heard of intersex?

Is a person who is intersex a hermaphrodite?

Does having a Y chromosome make someone a man?

Is intersex the same as "ambiguous genitalia"?

Show me how intersex anatomy develops

What is the current policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics on surgery?

What's the difference between being transgender or transsexual and having an intersex condition?

Why Doesn't ISNA Want to Eradicate Gender?

How can you assign a gender (boy or girl) without surgery?

What evidence is there that you can grow up psychologically healthy with intersex genitals (without "normalizing" surgeries)?

Does ISNA advocate doing nothing when a child is born with intersex?

What's ISNA's position on surgery?

Are there medical risks associated with intersex conditions?

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) medical risks

Gonadal tumors


How can I get my old medical records?

What do intersex and the same-sex marriage debate have to do with each other?

Who was David Reimer (also, sadly, known as "John/Joan")?

What's the history behind the intersex rights movement?