A few years ago, news spread that a 25-year-old woman in China had a male chromosome: XY. According to reports, the finding was accidental when some tests were done due to an ankle injury and citing her history of trying to get pregnant, but digging deeper revealed no uterus or ovaries.

The woman, whose identity has not been released, said that when she was younger, her mother took her to see a doctor because her sexual development was, in theory, slower than others, causing her to have menstrual problems.

The cables spoke of “intersexuality,” which, it must be said, was interpreted superficially, to the point of mentioning that it was apparently the result of a close relationship between their parents.

What is it about?

To clarify this question, EL TIEMPO consulted Gonzalo Guevara, a geneticist from the National University, who explained that in these cases the most typical is a condition called “total insensitivity to androgens”, in which the receptors of these male hormones show changes. or have defects as a result of mutations that prevent the development of external (such as the penis, scrotum, etc.) or secondary sex characteristics.

Naturally, the female genital organs such as the ovary, uterus or fallopian tubes also do not develop, so there is no menstruation, although feminization of her external organs such as the vagina and labia minora occurs.

According to Guevara, the testosterone produced by the testicles, which in these cases remains in the pelvic or groin areas, is derived from estrogens (female hormones), which ultimately contribute to the appearance of secondary sex characteristics such as breasts, vagina and labia, large and small among others.

In this sense, what can be seen from the outside are completely female signs, however, the expert says, when a karyotype (chromosomal analysis) is performed, they are XY, that is, male.

From a psychological and emotional point of view, they are completely female, and these cases go unnoticed “precisely because they are phenotypically (physically) normal,” Guevara adds.

The geneticist says there is another condition known as “XY gonadal dysgenesis” in which there is no identifiable testicular tissue and therefore those found do not develop female sex characteristics, which is different from the case of the Chinese patient in the reference. And in this sense, he claims that intersex “has different types.”

No gender identity, no orientation

In an article published in Ciencia UNAM, Luz María Moreno Tetlaquilo, head of the Gender and Health Studies Program at the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Mexico, says that it is often assumed that intersex has to do with gender identity, but it’s not really about her, “because intersex people can identify as male or female just like anyone else.”

The article insists that it also has nothing to do with sexual orientation, since these people have a different genital conformation, without that orientation.

In this sense, the same article states that, according to the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination in Mexico (CONAPRED), “intersexuals face violations of their integrity, as well as discrimination in various areas such as education, employment and sports.”

The above, without neglecting the fact that many of them may face prejudice and stigmatization of their bodies, which can lead to them being subjected to unnecessary treatment from an early age in order to conform their bodies to binary stereotypes (female or male), the same , which can cause irreversible damage. For this reason, it is recommended to know each case well and, from the point of view of integrity, guarantee their rights and the support they need according to their needs.