Intersex is a social concept because it is about how society reacts to people having a body that does not conform to the image people have of ‘men’ and ‘women’. Because intersex is still often seen as different from what is ‘normal’ or ‘the standard’, intersex people are regularly in contact with medical professionals when this is not always necessary. Intersex people also often discover they are intersex in a medical context, such as in a hospital. The health care offered by medical professionals is sometimes necessary, but many times it is unnecessary.
It is not always clear to intersex people and the carers of intersex children what health care is necessary and when medical interventions can safely and easily be postponed or not be carried out at all. Intersex people regularly get offered specific medical interventions, including psychological, hormonal and surgical treatment to adjust or remove parts of their external and internal sex characteristics. Sometimes intersex people undergo these medical interventions without giving consent themselves, for instance by being pressured or by not being fully informed about the intervention.
Knowing what your medical professionals mean and what kind of interventions are possible and necessary is extremely important for intersex people and parents of intersex children. This way, they can better protect themselves or their children by knowing more information before stepping into a medical situation or a doctor’s office. On this page, we try to provide information on all things health care when it comes to intersex. What specific healthcare is possible? What is necessary for your health, and what medical care has no medical need but is an option you or your child can consider (once old enough to understand and make such decisions)?