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Author Topic: Your religion's view on intersexuality:  (Read 2206 times)

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Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« on: June 04, 2009, 06:49:02 PM »
I will admit to being an expert of no religion though I have taken a few religious studies courses in school.

To the best of my knowledge, not many (if any) religious texts have much to say specifically on the subject of people who are intersexed. The concept of being clearly 'male' or 'female' is generally a cornerstone of the spiritual teachings.

I encourage anyone who wishes to participate to please list what you believe is your religion's view on intersexed individuals and whether it comes directly from any religious text or from separate laws laid down by church heads. Of course, if you know of other religions well you are in no way restricted to only speak of any religion you follow specifically.

Things you might want to include:

What gender are they perceived to be?
Is gender assignment surgery encouraged/required?
If so, then what is the religion's view of gender reassignment surgery for transexual individuals?
Is it acceptable for them to remain as they were born?
Could they hold any office of religious authority?

I don't mean to spark any argument. I'm just trying to ease my curiosity on the subject.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 04, 2009, 06:52:14 PM by jilorbb »

Offline Serephino

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2009, 09:23:15 PM »
I'm not sure why you wanted to start this topic but....

As a Pagan, beliefs differ between individuals or groups.  Me and my little group specifically, I think that gender confusion is more spiritual than psychological.  Souls do not have gender, but you're given one when put into a body.  While on earth your conditioned to assume the societal role of the gender of your body and you get into that mindset. Our bodies are temporary homes that tie us to the earth. 

Basically the general rule is do whatever you want as long as you're not hurting anybody.  So the question would be, would you be hurting anyone by having gender reassignment surgery?  If the answer is yes, then who would you be hurting if you didn't?  Then you must decide which would be more devastating.

If you would be upsetting family members by getting the surgery, but sentencing yourself to a life of misery if you didn't, your family will get over it.  We're supposed to help others, but in order to to that you need to take care of yourself first.  Obviously you're of no help to anyone if you commit suicide. 

It all depends on what tradition you follow, but a lot believe in a balance of male and female energy, and everyone is made up of both to some degree.  It's kind of like the yin/yang thing. 

Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2009, 09:37:10 PM »
I wanted to start this topic because I was born intersexed and I'm not sure what a lot of religious perspectives are on this.

Generally, gender assignment surgery is done just after birth with consent of a child's parents and I'm not sure if they're always worried about what harms the child over what will look the best in the end. (Then again, I'm not a parent and my parent didn't choose it for me so its hard to put myself in the position of, say, another true hermaphrodite like myself who's parents chose a gender for them.)

Thanks for the input, though.

Offline ShrowdedPoet

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Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2009, 12:03:30 AM »
I am pagan.  I follow a religion custom built to me.  Through my religious views there is nothing wrong with intersexed individuals.  They are whatever they decide to be.  Gender reassignment surgery is fine and they can certainly hold a religious position. 

Offline Trieste

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Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2009, 12:09:44 PM »
I don't follow a religion.

Christianity, as you probably well know, largely depends on the sect. You are far more likely to get acceptance both as a member of the church and as an official of the church in, say, Unitarian Universalism than you are to be accepted in, say, a Baptist congregation. However, like all denominations, the rules change depending on your location especially if you're talking about the U. S. I know that in Catholicism, you must be a man to be a minister. I have heard different parts of the Bible quoted to support or refute any and all of these practices, so the specific passages would be open to your own research, and are again dependent on the congregation.

Jehovah's Witnesses also allow only males to serve as Elders, though I'm told that reassignment surgery is allowable in some congregations. The most common factor is if you can convince your congregation that you are male in the 'eyes of God'. Very few can do this.

The brand of Wicca with which I am familiar relies moderately on gender power and gender roles. Some celebrations require that one call on one's feminine side, or one's masculine side. Different energies have different aspects ... there is a differentiation between the energy of young people and older people, too, so it's not just about gender, but about the cycles of life. Your physical sex does not matter as much as your ability to do a good job on your part of the celebration. As such, reassignment surgery doesn't matter that much, either. There are no texts that I know of from which these things are drawn; I believe it's just their tradition of Wicca. Again, your own research will help you fill in the gaps, but that should give you a starting point.

Hopefully this sheds some light for you.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2009, 01:42:31 AM »
As a fair warning, I follow the Tao, which makes me a taoist, but taoism is less a religion and more a philosophy.  My religion is something unusual and it does not make judgments at all based on what someone appears to be or acts like, but actually is.

The most obvious problem with that is 'how do you tell what someone is as opposed to what they seem like'?  It's a matter of experience and understanding.  If someone is intersexed and lives out a specific role according to their personal belief, and their behavior follows that belief, then that is what they are.  If they are hiding from that facet of their life, then you can find out eventually, and all you can do is support them.  Guiding people who are intersexed into becoming comfortable with their own existence, no matter what they choose that existence to be, is a duty and a privilege if it is allowed.

Now, note that I qualified that with 'if it is allowed'.  One does not interfere without permission, even if it is tacitly understood they are seeking help.  A person who needs guidance and counseling, if they are intersexed, and realizes that help and support is present if it is desired, may not always want that kind of help.  It's a situation they may believe needs to be resolved by themselves.  And that's fine - as long as they know the support is there if they need it. 

However, that said, intersexed people have power.  They can, if they want to, understand both sides of the world, yin and yang, and they have the capacity to draw from their duality.  Yang and Yin have their own strengths and weaknesses, but the intersexed have a deeper understanding of their opposite side.  Yin and Yang are not absolutes - they are situationally interchangeable, and further, they are not polarized perfectly.  That dot means something - the presence of one in the other.  Whether it is small or large does not amtter - and the power of Yin and Yang comes from their interaction with one another, not from their absoluteness.  An intersexed person is, by definition, an example of an extreme interaction of Yin and Yang, and thus, has power, and to spare. 

For those of you who wandered through that morass of information and philosophical/religious nonsense, I appreciate it.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 02:41:52 AM »
"Consider that in both alchemy and the highest levels of mystical experience, the penultimate state is the union of opposites: where polarities such as masculine and feminine, dark and light, good and evil merge and become more than the sum of all."

Several years ago, I found this quote on the website of a friend of mine (since redesigned, or I'd point you there).  I'm not sure if it rises to a religious view, but I find it rather thought-provoking.

Offline zefieyuki

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2009, 01:59:20 PM »
I'm a Christian and its my belife that God made people the way there were, even those that are IS. It's not their choice whether or not they want to be IS or not. They are born like that, completely different then being homosexual or straight.

I support IS. they are people too!

Offline Greenthorn

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2009, 02:50:38 PM »
I'm Roman Catholic and to my knowledge, and this is not really meant to be a pun on the Catholic religion...but they really don't care what's in your pants...unless it's your wallet.  I will mention that I am not practicing and since I'm in my 30s, intersexed people weren't talked about in my childhood, but I did go to Catholic school.

I'd be more than happy to go to email or approach a priest to find out how the Catholic religion views intersexed people, if you'd like  ;)

Offline ShrowdedPoet

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Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2009, 07:42:27 PM »
You call on the power of masculinity and femininity inside yourself.  It doesn't matter your sex.  Each person has a little of each side.  If you are strongly female with male parts you are still female and have the strength of the female and calling on female powers will be stronger than calling on male powers.  . . .if that made any since at all. . .

Offline Gunslinger

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2009, 03:11:16 PM »
I don't have a religion, I am an atheist.

In my opinion gender reassignment surgery should be encouraged. I cant really imagine to the full extent the confusion that a transexual faces determining their sexuality.

Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2009, 03:17:09 PM »
I'm not speaking about transsexuals specifically (That is, people who were born one gender but feel they are really another) except concerning reassignment.

How do you feel about naturally intersexed individuals?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2009, 03:25:39 PM »
The Universal Life Church doesn't care we love all our fellow members as equals regardless of what you are, inside or outside.


Offline quitefancy

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2009, 01:19:30 AM »
I'm pretty much absolutely of the opinion that sexual reassignment surgery should NOT be performed on infants. This however, is coming from a lapsed member of the Assembly of God, turned very, very atheist, so I can't say it's necessarily a RELIGIOUS view, so much as my personal opinions.

I think that performing sexual reassignment surgery on infants, parents forcing their own will upon their children to change something as important as their sexual organs, is sickening, to be honest. I feel the same way about circumcision, but since circumcision is so widely accepted, it's hard to voice an opinion against it that is listened to at all.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2009, 04:10:36 AM »
This is not exactly sex reassignment as the sex of the baby is undetermined at the time.  Most parents do make their child a male if able.  Sometimes doctors do weigh in on the decision if there is an obvious indicator of the sex.  When I have access to an actual computer I will enter my own information as requested.

Offline Greenthorn

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2009, 08:47:38 AM »
On forcing assignment of a sex in infants, I am totally against it.  There are too many what-ifs to think about in the future.  What if the child I chose to be male develops breasts?  What if the child I chose to be female develops facial hair?

Really, in this day and age I would wait on making a decision, or not make one at all...instead, start saving money so that the child can choose for themselves.  As for clothing, it would depend on the outward sex organs.  Raising a child with aspects of both sexes though, in my opinion, means not curbing any of their interests.  They play with dolls or trucks.  Who cares!

A child should be allowed to live happily and freely.  When the time comes, that child turned adult can choose one or the other...or simply remain unique.

Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2009, 12:34:50 PM »
I'm pretty much absolutely of the opinion that sexual reassignment surgery should NOT be performed on infants. This however, is coming from a lapsed member of the Assembly of God, turned very, very atheist, so I can't say it's necessarily a RELIGIOUS view, so much as my personal opinions.

I think that performing sexual reassignment surgery on infants, parents forcing their own will upon their children to change something as important as their sexual organs, is sickening, to be honest. I feel the same way about circumcision, but since circumcision is so widely accepted, it's hard to voice an opinion against it that is listened to at all.
My parents were of your exact mind.  :-)

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2009, 04:13:13 PM »
Alright, as promised I will put down my own personal beliefs.  A common trend in writing social paper is to label one’s own bias.  For the most part I was raised Catholic and grew up in what is considered the Bible Belt of the South.  Sunday School for most of my young life and Catholic School shortly afterward, all of which I think were fine experiences.  I mostly remember playing tag with other kids in the Church and a lot of southern cooking.  After that was just Catholic High school, which is a lot more strict for girls than boys in regards to religion courses.   My brother would often come back talking about these doctrine debates on what is right and wrong, while I was told quite pointedly what constituted immoral behavior as a young woman. 

Anyway, so far as intersexed goes I don’t really have an opinion.  I suppose this would fall into “all equal in the eyes of God” philosophy.  I do not think God is trying to strike them down, is playing a practical joke on them or that really God had any hand in the process.  Selecting the child’s sex at birth was simply something that people do in order to understand.  Parents want the best for their children and in their eyes not knowing your sex, and by extension your gender, is one more hurdle they don’t want for their child.  People, generally, want what is best for their children in their eyes.  They want their children to grow up happy and healthy, to be successful in their endeavors. 

Do I think it is horrible that parents elected to have the assignment surgery done, not at all.  Biologically speaking that is the easiest and least traumatic time to have that surgery performed.    It is also, if all goes well and the proper sex selected, the best time developmentally.  The child will grow up being treated as that sex with no one the wiser to what happened.  There are no awkward moments of people knowing that child was born checked “neither.” For those where mistakes are made, I certainly hope they have good parents that will understand and support their sex change if they choose to do so. 

Offline quitefancy

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2009, 02:01:22 AM »
This is not exactly sex reassignment as the sex of the baby is undetermined at the time.  Most parents do make their child a male if able.  Sometimes doctors do weigh in on the decision if there is an obvious indicator of the sex.  When I have access to an actual computer I will enter my own information as requested.

Alright, well I'm just gonna throw a few things out there. First of all, it's absoutely sexual reassignment surgery. All creatures are born sexed. Our society however, just chooses to only acknowledge the 'male' and 'female' sex. The sex of a child with ambiguous genitals is only undetermined because our society does not acknowledge more than two sexes, despite the fact that many sociologists believe that both sex and gender exist on a continuum.

Second, parents do not often make their children male. Statistically, around 70-80% of parents choose to reassign their children as 'female', as a vagina is much easier to construct surgically than a penis.

And in regards to your later comment, about the surgery being less traumatic and less harmful at a younger age- children who have sexual reassignment surgery have to go back multiple times throughout their lives for more surgery. They also often have to take hormones for the rest of their lives, to balance their hormones out to the sex they've been assigned to.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2009, 02:31:41 AM »
While I really have no data to counter the 70-80% being female, I can only look toward the majority of people that desire male children.  That so many intersex children are made female is probably due more to the doctor’s advice and choice than parents.  Addition is obviously harder than subtraction for the human body. 

Also, please keep in mind that sex is not a sociological concept.  There are only two sexes by most biological standards when addressing the human species.  There is male and female, with very little variation between them in terms of biology.  Gender is separate from that and is considered a construct of society with many facets and possibilities.  There is no “other” sex as much as people may want there to be.  Even intersex children that are allowed to grow up without the surgery pick a gender and then typically have their sex molded to fit what is best in their society.

As for the repeated surgeries, the same can be said for any sex change operation.  People have to go back for repeated surgeries and take a great many injections in order to obtain the desired result.  There is a lot of pain, drug use and awkwardness to go through in their adult lives.  A child can be spared some of this if done early enough.  I did not mean traumatic simply from a surgical stand point, though that is included in my statement.

Offline quitefancy

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2009, 02:59:27 AM »
While I really have no data to counter the 70-80% being female, I can only look toward the majority of people that desire male children.  That so many intersex children are made female is probably due more to the doctor’s advice and choice than parents.  Addition is obviously harder than subtraction for the human body. 

Also, please keep in mind that sex is not a sociological concept.  There are only two sexes by most biological standards when addressing the human species.  There is male and female, with very little variation between them in terms of biology.  Gender is separate from that and is considered a construct of society with many facets and possibilities.  There is no “other” sex as much as people may want there to be.  Even intersex children that are allowed to grow up without the surgery pick a gender and then typically have their sex molded to fit what is best in their society.

As for the repeated surgeries, the same can be said for any sex change operation.  People have to go back for repeated surgeries and take a great many injections in order to obtain the desired result.  There is a lot of pain, drug use and awkwardness to go through in their adult lives.  A child can be spared some of this if done early enough.  I did not mean traumatic simply from a surgical stand point, though that is included in my statement.

And I again refer you to the thousands upon thousands of sociologists who dedicate their lives to researching sex and sexuality. Anne Fausto-Sterling is a pioneer of the belief that sex exists on a continuum. Sex is absolutely a socially constructed idea. Please look to other societies with third sex categories, such as the hijra in India and the berdaches in many Native American societies. These are not simply gender roles. They are additional sex categories. The western world, the United States especially, is sickeningly resistant to the idea of multiple sexes.

Gender is certainly socially constructed, but gender is not what we are talking about here. There is no reason why your gender should match your sex. And many intersexed children, an increasing number of them in fact, are choosing not to get any sort of sexual reassignment surgery, because it's saying to the world around them that they aren't 'right' as they are.

And other sex change operations are irrelevant to this conversation. When people are born into the wrong body, as transgendered and transsexual individuals are, it is their conscious and personal choice to have a sexual reassignment surgery. It is not a decision made by a parent worried about their friends thinking they have a strange child.

In closing, I'll direct you to one of Fausto-Sterling's very informative articles, "Why Male and Female Are Not Enough".
http://frank.mtsu.edu/~phollowa/5sexes.html

Please take the time to read this as it's very informative and will almost certainly make you think more about the 'biological' sexes you seem so concerned about sticking to.


Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2009, 12:21:47 PM »
Even intersex children that are allowed to grow up without the surgery pick a gender and then typically have their sex molded to fit what is best in their society.

As odd as it might seem, I doubt I'm the only one who chose not to do either in the end. Going with what quitefancy had just said, after living through a lot of things, I've become of the mind that to change myself through surgery would be to say that its just not OK to be who I really am.

I'm glad that my parents decided not to alter my form surgically when I was a child - though they had to fight tooth and nail to get any sort of support for their decision. They thought it best to wait and see what I decided to do and they raised me with the belief that both genders were equal so it didn't matter at all to them which I would decide to become, or if I even decided to chose one at all.

Certainly, there were some awkward social moments, the biggest of which being bathroom issues at public school after which my parents decided to home school me. For the most part, we just sort of let everyone think what they would of me. Luckily, I grew up in the 80's and boys and girls could largely get away with wearing the same things; I ran about in corduroys and striped t-shirts. Most people thought I was one gender or the other, and those that didn't really know what to think rarely even asked about it.

There is a terrible social stigma in the US (where I live) when it comes to intersexuality and the prevalence of gender assignment surgery (or re-assignment, as quitefancy prefers it - to which I think she has a valid point) has made those who are intersexed even more of a rarity and so we're looked upon as side-show attractions to some degree.

I've had my 'girl' days and my 'boy' days but I mainly shoot for absolute androgyny. I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking I'm one way or another, and I have had to correct a few individuals who assumed something of me and tried to get romantically involved. So far, this has meant that I have many friends in my social life, but few actual lovers. And, most people who approach me sexually anyway generally have terrible misconceptions as to what I have and don't have under my clothes.

I take all this in mind and seek to better educate others about intersexuality. But this is just my attitude based upon how I was raised and there was very little religious doctrine involved as my parents identify as agnostic.

Offline quitefancy

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2009, 01:09:44 PM »
There is a terrible social stigma in the US (where I live) when it comes to intersexuality and the prevalence of gender assignment surgery (or re-assignment, as quitefancy prefers it - to which I think she has a valid point) has made those who are intersexed even more of a rarity and so we're looked upon as side-show attractions to some degree.

I agree entirely. We don't even know how many intersexed individuals there are in the US because so many of them have been reassigned at birth. I just think the idea that the US forces everyone to fit into a sexual dichotomy very frustrating. It makes individuals who don't fit into that sexual dichotomy 'out of place' or 'abnormal' and I don't think that's right at all.

And as far as the sexual reassignment surgery, I don't think I could call it anything but. It's not really gender reassignment because gender are the attitudes, mannerisms, patterns of speech associated with masculinity and femininity. And as I said before, everyone is born sexed. To think otherwise is very limiting and exclusionary.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2009, 02:06:11 PM »
I do thank you for the article and I will more than likely order the full text when I have time to read something outside my current studies and outside my current research interests.  I will admit reading this article with a bias toward my own opinion.  I have reread the article a few times with a strong desire to eradicate my own preconceived notions regarding intersex birth.  While I do have a greater understanding for the complexity of the situation, I do not find that my belief on their being two biological sexes to have changed.  Those that belong to the intersex classification, in my opinion, are unfortunate as they fall into an area of variation that is closely tied to social concepts.

The mention of a continuum does indicate that there are two points that the person can reach.  This would be male and female in this instance.  According to the article, there are many variations that fall between these categories.  The popularized number is 1.7% of births fall between these points.  Nearly 2 in every thousand births should fall into this population.  Yet in this article, realize this is not the entire document; there is little mention of these “normal” traits being reproduced by intersex couples.  From what I have read many intersex categories have varying degrees of infertility, meaning that their organs of sexual reproduction are not able to do as they were intended.  From a biological stand point, this does not seem optimal at all for the person.  The person’s physical body has a deviation from the standard, by standard I mean 98.3% of the population. 

From my little bit of digging, most medical institutions are no longer advocating the surgical correction at birth.  Most advocate waiting for the child to make a choice or to decide which characteristics become displayed before doing the surgery.  Hormone therapy is a standard procedure for them if there is a deficiency somewhere along with cosmetic correction if the person so chooses.  So far as I can tell, if the hormone replacement is done as needed and any medical concerns regarding urinary tract are addressed then intersex individuals can live perfectly fine lives without the cosmetic surgery.  So I see no valid point for introducing a plethora of medical terminology and paperwork into this equation. 

An intersex child is an abnormality.  I am sorry to present that as reality, but that is simply the truth.  There is no point in taking an abnormality and trying to present this as anything more.  Is this an abnormality that should be pursued to the ends of the Earth, no.  Yet this is a biological variation, not the emergence of a new sex.  Medically speaking their reproductive organs, both exterior and at times interior, are different from the majority of the population.  Dr. Fausto-Sterling’s estimate at around 2% of births being intersex is debated for being very generous by her definition.  So the generous estimate, which means the deviation does not occur in an estimated 98% of the species, does not even give grounds for the creation of a multiple sex system.  Dr. Fausto-Sterling made a statement that those being born fully male or female may be the lucky ones, but when the dice come down over 98% of the time then there is no luck involved.

From a personal view point, I am happy that original poster found acceptance for their body.  I am happy that medicine served them as it should by being their advocate instead of their obstacle.  That they did not require surgery is wonderful and that they have adjusted to their choices is to be looked on happily.  Would the original poster have faced any fewer obstacles if the doctor announced you have given birth to a beautiful baby ferm?

As a final point on the numbers, I will submit two items.  The first is a simple confirmation that with proper authorization, the amount of intersex births can be properly cataloged in hospitals that have the proper record keepings and technology.  Even if the surgery was performed to correct, someone was billed for that correction.  Secondly, I will present an article that was written to directly address the one previously posted.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_3_39/ai_94130313/?tag=content;col1

Final note - If we wish to continue with this train of discussion, we may wish to do so on a seperate thread.  This particular one was meant to discuss religious viewpoints.

Offline jilorbbTopic starter

Re: Your religion's view on intersexuality:
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2009, 02:46:00 PM »
An intersex child is an abnormality.  I am sorry to present that as reality, but that is simply the truth.  There is no point in taking an abnormality and trying to present this as anything more.  Is this an abnormality that should be pursued to the ends of the Earth, no.  Yet this is a biological variation, not the emergence of a new sex.  Medically speaking their reproductive organs, both exterior and at times interior, are different from the majority of the population. 

I agree that this is a bit off-topic, but I did want to make one comment in response to this paragraph.

What is 'normal'? dictionary.com defines the word normal as:

1.    conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.


It might seem that we intersexed would fall into the 'abnormal' category by some of these definitions, the simple word at the end of the sentence makes me say that we're not.

While the occurrence of intersexed children is rare, it is a natural occurrence, something that happens every so often to a developing fetus. To say that we're abnormal is to say that our condition isn't natural.

I'd prefer the term 'unusual' more, because its more specific and doesn't exclude natural rare occurrences.