What happens when a baby’s genitals cannot be easily classified as male or female?

When a baby is born with ambiguous genitals, doctors perform examinations and laboratory tests to determine exactly what condition the baby has. Determining the type of intersex condition is important, because some intersex conditions that cause ambiguous genitals (for example, certain types of congenital adrenal hyperplasia) can be associated with medical problems that may require urgent medical or surgical treatment.
Because we expect everyone to be identifiably male or female, the parents and family members of babies born with ambiguous genitals are usually eager to learn what condition the child has, so that sex assignment can occur without delay.

Is being gay as healthy as being straight? 

In the 1950’s, Dr. Evelyn Hooker studied 30 homosexual males and 30 heterosexual males recruited through community organizations. The two groups were matched for age, IQ, and education. None of the men were in therapy at the time of the study. Dr. Hooker administered three projective tests, which measure people’s patterns of thoughts, attitudes, and emotions–the Rorschach, in which people describe what they see in abstract ink blots, the Thematic Apperception Test [TAT] and the Make-A-Picture-Story [MAPS] Test), in which people tell stories about different pictures. Unaware of each subject’s sexual orientation, two independent Rorschach experts evaluated the men’s overall adjustment using a 5-point scale. They classified two-thirds of the heterosexuals and two-thirds of the homosexuals in the three highest categories of adjustment. When asked to identify which Rorschach protocols were obtained from homosexuals, the experts could not distinguish respondents’ sexual orientation at a level better than chance.

A third expert used the TAT and MAPS protocols to evaluate the psychological adjustment of the men. As with the Rorschach responses, the adjustment ratings of the homosexual and heterosexuals did not differ significantly.” Based on these findings, Dr. Hooker tentatively suggested that homosexuals were as psychologically normal as heterosexuals were.


What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight? 

All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

Is homosexuality a mental disorder? 

No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder. All major professional mental health organizations have gone on record to affirm that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from its official diagnostic manual, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (DSM II). The action was taken following a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts in the field. The experts found that homosexuality does not meet the criteria to be considered a mental illness.
“The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness, all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals. Nor is homosexuality a matter of individual choice. Research suggests that the homosexual orientation is in place very early in the life cycle, possibly even before birth. It is found in about ten percent of the population, a figure which is surprisingly constant across cultures, irrespective of the different moral values and standards of a particular culture. Contrary to what some imply, the incidence of homosexuality in a population does not appear to change with new moral codes or social mores. Research findings suggest that efforts to repair homosexuals are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accouterments.” (American Psychological Association,; Statement on Homosexuality – 1994)

What is the psychological impact of prejudice and discrimination?

The widespread prejudice, discrimination, and violence to which lesbians and gay men are often subjected are significant mental health concerns. Sexual prejudice, sexual orientation discrimination, and antigay violence are major sources of stress for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Although social support is crucial in coping with stress, antigay attitudes and discrimination may make it difficult for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to find such support.

Does queer theology square with a comprehensive overview of the scriptures references to Sodom and homosexuality?

As “queer theologians” themselves admit, “any” arguments they have made in favor of Scriptural commendation of homosexuality have been extrapolated “from silence.”However, it must be observed that interpreting Scripture’s “silence” about homosexuality to mean all negative references to homosexuality are not about homosexuality per se, and that Jesus must have approved of homosexuality because he is not reported to have discussed it, require accepting some far-stretched assumptions.
First, part of the “silence” “queer theologians” argue from may not be “silence” at all, but the impression of silence, obtained by ignoring clear commentary on homosexuality which they don’t want to acknowledge. Second, Jesus isn’t reported to have spoken about any number of acts and attitudes we may be reasonably sure he didn’t approve of, such as wife- beating, child abuse and slavery, not to mention sins like computer fraud that didn’t exist in his times. It’s illogical to assume simply from his “silence” that Christ would have found such things acceptable.
Is Scripture, comprehensively viewed, as “silent” about homosexuality as “queer theologians” would have us believe? Let’s go to Scripture itself for evidence. Four types of Jewish/Christian Scripture passages have been regarded for centuries as touching on homosexual issues, Sodom, sodomy or “sodomites”. Narrative references describe events in which homosexual actions and/or desires seem to play some part. Moral/civil law references state what seem to be proscriptions of and penalties for homosexual behavior. New revelation references seem to describe homosexuality’s relationship to the framework of Christian life and doctrine.
Commentary references illuminate other apparent references to homosexuality throughout the Judeo- Christian Scriptures3.

How can I be supportive of intersex family members, friends, or significant others?

Educate yourself about the specific intersex condition the person has.

Be aware of your own attitudes about issues of sex, gender, and disability.

Learn how to talk about issues of sex and sexuality in an age-appropriate manner.

Remember that most persons with intersex conditions are happy with the sex to which they have been assigned. Do not assume that gender-atypical behavior by an intersexperson reflects an incorrect sex assignment.

Work to ensure that people with intersex conditions are not teased, harassed, or subjected to discrimination.

Get support, if necessary, to help deal with your feelings. Intersex persons and their families, friends, and partners often benefit from talking with mental health professionals about their feelings concerning intersex conditions and their implications.

Consider attending support groups, which are available in many areas for intersex

persons and their families, friends, and partners you know.

What challenges do people with intersex conditions and their families face? 

Intersex conditions discovered later in life often become apparent in early adolescence. Delayed or absent signs of puberty may be the first indication that an intersex condition exists. For example, complete androgen insensitivity may first become apparent when Intersex conditions, whether discovered at birth or later in life, can be very challenging for affected persons and their families. Medical information about intersex conditions and their implications are not always easy to understand. Persons with intersex conditions and their families may also experience feelings of shame, isolation, anger, or depression. Parents of children with intersex conditions sometimes wonder how much they should tell their children about their condition and at what age. Experts recommend that parents and care providers tell children with intersex conditions about their condition throughout their lives in an age-appropriate manner. Experienced mental health professionals can help parents decide what information is age-appropriate and how best to share it. People with intersex and their families can also benefit from peer support.

Do intersex conditions affect sexual orientation? 

Most people with intersex conditions grow up to be heterosexual, but persons with some specific intersex conditions seem to have an increased likelihood of growing up to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual adults. Even so, most individuals with these specific conditions also grow up to be heterosexual.

Are persons with intersex conditions likely to display behaviors or interests that are atypical for persons of their assigned sex?

This appears to be true for some intersex conditions. For example, girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are somewhat more likely to be tomboys than girls without an intersex condition. Persons with many other intersex conditions appear to be no more likely to have gender-atypical behaviors or interests than anyone else.
Sometimes parents or care providers worry that genderatypical behavior in a child or adult with an intersex condition indicates that sex assignment was incorrect. However, the vast majority of persons with intersex conditions, including most intersex persons who display gender-atypical behaviors or interests, report that they are happy with their assigned sex.

What happens when an intersex condition is discovered later in life? 

Intersex conditions discovered later in life often become apparent in early adolescence. Delayed or absent signs of puberty may be the first indication that an intersex condition exists. For example, a girl does not menstruate. Medical treatment is sometimes necessary to help development proceed as normally as possible; for some conditions, surgical treatment may be recommended. Many intersex conditions discovered late in life are associated with infertility or with reduced fertility. Discovery of an intersex condition in adolescence can be extremely distressing for the adolescent and his or her parents and can result in feelings of shame, anger, or depression. Experienced mental health professionals can be very helpful in dealing with these challenging issues and feelings.

Are persons born with ambiguous genitals usually happy with their assigned sex?

Most persons born with intersex conditions are happy with their assigned sex, just as most persons born without intersex conditions are. Rarely, persons with intersex conditions find that their assigned sex does not feel appropriate; these individuals sometimes decide to live as members of the other sex. The same thing can occur, of course, in persons without intersex conditions. There is very little information about which intersex conditions, if any, are associated with an increased likelihood of dissatisfaction with one’s assigned sex.

Do babies born with ambiguous genitals always need surgery immediately?

Not usually. Sometimes surgery is necessary to correct conditions that may be harmful to the baby’s health, but usually it is not medically necessary to perform surgery immediately to make the baby’s genitals appear more recognizably male or female. Parents, physicians, and intersex persons may have differing opinions about whether, how, and at what age surgery should be performed to change the appearance of ambiguous genitals. At this time, there is very little research evidence to guide such decisions.

How do doctors and parents decide sex assignment in babies born with ambiguous genitals?

A variety of factors go into this decision. Important goals in deciding sex assignment include preserving fertility where possible, ensuring good bowel and bladder function, preserving genital sensation, and maximizing the likelihood that the baby will be satisfied with his or her assigned sex later in life. Research has shown that individuals with some conditions are more likely to be satisfied in later life when assigned as males, while individuals with other conditions are more likely to be satisfied when assigned as females. For still other conditions, individuals may be equally satisfied with assignment to either sex, or there may not be enough information to make confident recommendations. Doctors share this information with babies’ parents as part of the process of deciding the most appropriate sex to assign.

What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation? 

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

Are Intersex conditions always apparent at Birth? 

Not always. Some intersex conditions cause babies to be born with genitals that cannot easily be classified as male or female (called ambiguous genitals). These intersex conditions are usually recognized at birth. The first four conditions listed above – congenital adrenal hyperplasia, 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, and penile agenesis – are in this category. Other intersex conditions, including the last four conditions listed above – complete androgen insensitivity, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, and vaginal agenesis – usually do not result in ambiguous genitals and may not be recognized at birth. Babies born with these conditions are assigned to the sex consistent with their genitals, just like others babies. Their intersex conditions may only become apparent later in life, often around the time of puberty.

What are some examples of Intersex conditions? 

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, in which overproduction of hormones in the adrenal gland causes masculinization of the genitals in female infants;
  • 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, in which low levels of an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, cause incomplete masculinization of the genitals in male infants
  • Partial androgen insensitivity, in which cells do not respond normally to testosterone and related hormones, causing incomplete masculinization of the genitals in male infants
  • Penile agenesis, in which male infants are born without a penis
  • Complete androgen insensitivity, in which cells do not respond at all to testosterone and related hormones, causing female-appearing genitals in infants with male chromosomes
  • Klinefelter syndrome, in which male infants are born with an extra X (female) chromosome, which typically causes incomplete masculinization and other anomalies
  • Turner syndrome, in which female infants are born with one, rather than two, X (female) chromosomes, causing developmental anomalies
  • Vaginal agenesis, in which female infants are born without a vagina

How common are Intersex condition? 

There is no simple answer to this question. Intersex conditions are not always accurately diagnosed, experts sometimes disagree on exactly what qualifies as an intersex condition, and government agencies do not collect statistics about intersex individuals.
Some experts estimate that as many as 1 in every 1,500 babies is born with genitals that cannot easily be classified as male or female.

What does Intersex means? 

A variety of conditions that lead to atypical development of physical sex characteristics is collectively referred to as intersex conditions. These conditions can involve abnormalities of the external genitals, internal reproductive organs, sex chromosomes, or sex-related hormones.
Some examples include:

External genitals that cannot be easily classified as male or female

Incomplete or unusual development of the internal reproductive organs

Inconsistency between the external genitals and the internal reproductive organs

Abnormalities of the sex chromosomes

Abnormal development of the testes or ovaries

Over- or underproduction of sex-related hormones

Inability of the body to respond normally to sex-related hormones

Intersex was originally a medical term that was later embraced by some intersex persons. Many experts and persons with intersex conditions have recently recommended adopting the term disorders of sex development (DSD). They feel that this term is more accurate and less stigmatizing than the term intersex.

Why should I support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality?

LGBT rights are not special rights. We are working to achieve equal civil rights for all people, including LGBT people. LGBT children, friends and family members deserve the same rights as our straight ones. However, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still legal in many states, a LGBT person can be fired from their job simply because of whom they love or how they express their gender, same-sex couples cannot legally be married in Nigeria. LGBT youth face constant harassment and  abuse in schools across the country, and it is clear that the road to full equality and acceptance is a long one.

How can we reconcile sexual orientation with faith? 

This is a difficult question for many people. Learning that a loved one is LGBT can be a challenge if you feel it is at odds with your faith tradition. However, being LGBT does not impact a person’s ability to be moral and spiritual any more than being heterosexual does. Many LGBT people are religious and active in their own faith communities. It is up to you to explore, question and make choices in order to reconcile religion with homosexuality and gender variance. For some this means working for change within their faith community, and for others it means leaving it.

Can gay people have families? 

Yes! LGBT people can and do have families. Same-sex couples do form committed and loving relationships. In Nigeria many same-sex couples choose to secretly celebrate their love with commitment ceremonies or civil unions, many who are able to go abroad have done so, although these couples are not offered the rights and benefits of marriage. More and more LGBT couples are also raising children together, although laws on adoption and foster parenting vary. Many LGBT people have the support of the loving families they were born into, and a high percentage are alienated or keep it a secret, or the families that they have created with their other friends and loved ones.

Should Parents, families and friends talk to a loved one about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity before the person talks to them? 

It’s seldom appropriate to ask a person, “Are you gay? Your perception of another person’s sexual orientation (gay or straight) or gender identity (male or female) is not necessarily what it appears.
No one can know for sure unless the person has actually declared that they are gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. We recommend creating a safe space by showing your support of LGBT issues on a non-personal level. For example, take an interest in openly discussing and learning about topics such as same-sex marriage or LGBT rights in the workplace, health services and social groups. Learn about LGBT communities and culture. Come out as an ally, regardless of if your friend or loved one is LGBT.

How does someone know they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? 

Some people say that they have “felt different” or knew they were attracted to people of the same sex from the time they were very young. Some transgender people talk about feeling from an early age that their gender identity did not match parental and social expectations. Others do not figure out their sexual orientation or gender identity until they are adolescents or adults. Often it can take a while for people to put a label to their feelings, or people’s feelings may change over time.
Understanding our sexuality and gender can be a lifelong process, and people shouldn’t worry about labelling themselves right away. However, as we work on positive images of LGBT people, it is becoming easier for people to identify their feelings and come out at earlier ages. People don’t have to be sexually active to know their sexual orientation – feelings and emotions are as much a part of one’s identity. The short answer is that you’ll know when you know.

Can gay people change their sexual orientation or gender identity? 

No – and efforts to do so aren’t just unnecessary – they’re damaging.
Religious and secular organizations do sponsor campaigns and studies claiming that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation or gender identity because there is something wrong. We believe that it is our anti-LGBT attitudes, laws and policies that need to change, not LGBT people. 
These studies and campaigns suggesting that LGBT people can change are based on ideological biases and not peer-reviewed solid science. No studies show proven long term changes in gay or transgender people, and many reported changes are based solely on behaviour and not a person’s actual self-identity.

How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?

No one knows exactly how sexual orientation and gender identity determined. However, experts agree that it is a complicated matter of genetics, biology, psychological and social factors. For most people, sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age. While research has not determined a cause, homosexuality and gender variance are not the result of any one factor like (bad) parenting or past experiences. It is never anyone’s “fault” if they or their loved one grows up to be LGBT.

Is there any data that shows mental differences between gay and straight?

In a review of the literature, Gonsiorek (1982) argued there was no data showing mental differences between gays and straights–or if there was any, it could be attributed to social stigma. Similarly, Ross (1988) in a cross-cultural study, found most gays were in the normal psychological range. However some papers did give hints of psychiatric differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. One study (Riess, 1980) used the MMPI, that venerable and well-validated psychological scale, and found that homosexuals showed definite “personal and emotional oversensitivity.”
In 1991, the absolute equality of homosexuality and heterosexuality was strongly defended in a paper called “The Empirical Basis for the Demise of the Mental Illness Model” (Gonsiorek, 1991). But not until 1992 was homosexuality dropped from the psychiatric manual used by other nations–the International Classification of Diseases (King and Bartlett, 1999)–so it appears the rest of the world doubted the APA 1973 decision for nearly two decades.