Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Intersexuality and Muslims

"What is intersex?

Intersex people are people who, as individuals, have genetic, hormonal, and physical features that may be thought to be typical of both male and female at once. That is, we may be thought of as being male with female features, female with male features, or indeed we may have no clearly defined sexual features at all." (
Organisation Internationale des Intersexues)

I saw a documentary last night about an intersex child. It was fascinating and made me re-think my position: that there are only two genders, male or female. Is there a third gender? What is Islam's position about intersex?

The child in the documentary was born a "boy." He had a penis, but upon closer examination, he also had a little "vagina" underneath it. Instead of urinating from an opening on the head of the penis, he urinated from an opening at the top of his "vagina." "His" parents refused to consent to the hospital's recommendation that they operate on the child and "fix" the genitalia. Although the parents gave the child a male name and socialized him as a boy, the child grew up showing interest in feminine things and activities. The child also insisted that he was a girl. The documentary permitted the viewer to accompany the family on a beautiful and sensitive journey. It ended before the child entered puberty, and it would be interesting to see a follow up documentary.

The program also said that intersexuality is common in nature.

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