MYTH #10: Intersex is extremely rare

First we need to acknowledge that it’s hard to say exactly how frequent intersex is, because the sex spectrum is like the color spectrum; nature provides us with a range where one “type” blends imperceptibly into the next. For our linguistic and social convenience, we break that spectrum into categories. It makes it easier to talk about “that blue car” or “that man over there.” But nature doesn’t tell us that there are 7, or 10, or 100, or ten million colors, and nature doesn’t even know that there are two sexes. We humans, with our words and our cultures, decide how many categories to delineate. While the “male” and “female” types are relatively common, nature presents a full range of sex types, and people decide where the line should be drawn between “female” and “intersex” or “intersex” and “male.” That said, we do know that about 1 in 2,000 children is born with genitals that are pretty confusing to all the adults in the room. We know this from the statistics of how many newborn babies are referred to “gender identity teams” in major hospitals.

But wait, you say, 1 in 2,000 sounds rare! Well, if only 1 in 2,000 persons is intersexed, then intersex is more common than cystic fibrosis, a condition most people have heard of. In fact, as Sherri Groveman pointed out in her article in Intersex in the Age of Ethics, if you do the math, you realize that there are more intersexed people in the world than there are Jewish people!

And if all of the intersexed people of voting age had voted for a single presidential candidate, the outcome of the election would have never been in doubt.

(Not that we’re telling you who you should have voted for—though you might want to know for future reference that Al Gore made a public, educated statement about intersex at a meeting of LGBT leaders. We were unable to find out from the Bush team the Republican platform on intersex.)

In fact, maybe it’s time to print t-shirts that say, “I’m intersexed, and I vote!” But wait, are you intersexed? That leads us to Myth 9.