Intersex and transgender are two different things, but people still confuse the two and think they are the same. They are different, but the challenges one who is intersex or transgender has to undergo are often similar.

LGBTQ Progress Pride with intersex inclusion flag

Intersex, also known as hermaphrodite, is someone that is born with a combination of both male and female chromosomes and/or genitals. These chromosomes and genitals fall out of line with what is considered a binary male and female, and thus are labeled intersex. They are often not fully formed genitals, and one set is often more developed than the other. Many times people who are intersex undo surgeries when they are a baby to correct what is deemed a mistake, while the child then grows up to be male or female. The problem is, the correction surgery may have fixed the issue with the appearance of the genitals, it didn’t fix the gender of the brain?

There are many intersex people who have undergone surgery to make them more of a biological male or biological female, then conditioned by parents to be male or female, only to grow up and feel like the opposite sex. This happens because the surgery went in the opposite favor of what the person identifies as. For instance, someone who was born intersex with an under developed male genital may undergo surgery to correct that and make them more female. They are then conditioned by family growing up to live as a female. The problem is, when they get older, they may actually have been a male and thus went through a surgery and life that wasn’t what they actually were. They may be kept in the dark and not know until they are older that they were intersex. Some intersex people, even at the time of birth, show no signs of being intersex and only until puberty do signs start to show.

Once the intersex person realizes what happened, and they are living as the wrong sex, they sometimes will make a transition to the other sex. This is where there are similarities between intersex and transgender.

A transgender person, more specifically a transsexual, is someone who was biologically born a male or female, and transitions to the opposite sex due to gender dysphoria. For instance, someone who was born a biological male, with completely male parts and upbringing will become dysphoric about anything that they define as masculine on their body, especially their genitals, facial structure and hair, voice, etc. They then begin the process of transitioning using hormones and surgeries to look more like the opposite sex and live full time as the sex they identify as. No amount of surgeries can make them biologically the sex they identify as, but it does help relieve dysphoria. But for some, the dysphoria can be so extreme that it can still remain after transition and surgeries.

Young man looking at his imaginary reflection in mirror.

The difference between intersex and transgender has to do with how someone was born. An intersex person is not a binary male or female and is often born with a combination of box sexes’ genitals, or chromosomes. While transsexual is a binary male or female that experiences gender dysphoria and transitions to the opposite sex. An intersex person can transition as well, much the same as a transgender person does.

We are all vastly different, and everyone will make up their own mind as to what they do with their bodies. Just because someone is different from you, and you may not understand them, accept them for who they are and respect their decisions.

Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!

Additional Info

I always thought I was intersex since I thought that made more sense to me than being born a male and feeling like a female. However, there was nothing biologically female about my body, despite having some female characteristics that seemed to not really fit what a male would have. Still, I had to transition to be happy, and am grateful I did since I’m happier than I’ve ever been just expressing my true self.


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