The Third Sex: The Idea of the Hermaphrodites

Topics: Gender, Intersexuality, Hermaphrodite Pages: 3 (1001 words) Published: December 9, 2012
Hermaphrodites, Third Sex

You just won the World Championship in the women’s 800 meter race, beating your competitors by 2.45 seconds; all of a sudden your competitors are demanding that tests be done to confirm that you are in fact a woman. You are being ridiculed, sexually harassed and teased by people all over the world about the way you look and the way you sound. Your life is being ripped apart, your success and triumph in the world of competitive sports is being taken from you. That’s what happed to 18 year old Caster Semenya from South Africa who was born and raised her whole life as a female. The required tests were completed by the International Association of Athletics Federation and before she was even notified of the results; they were leaked to the press and the world that she was a hermaphrodite. This started in uproar throughout the world, as to whether or not she was actually a she, or was she a he. Is there in fact more than two sexes, is there a third sex and should it be “other”. I don’t know, do we have more than just the two standard sex classifications? So, what is a Hermaphrodite and what does it mean?

Medically speaking a “true” hermaphrodite is a person born with a complete set of male and female sexual organs. A rarity that is has not been seen in a human and is more common in earth worms. All of us start off as female, when the fetus reaches 8 weeks it is either immersed with testosterone making it a male or it continues on developing as a female. However, biological malfunctions do happen. When a child is born the first question asked is, is it a girl or a boy? What happens if it is neither? According to Anne Fausto-Sterling a Professor in Biology and Gender Studies at Brown University, one out of every two thousand births in America is an intersexual birth. That is equivalent to 125,000 people living in the United States. She further states in her published article titled “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are...
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