Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God

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Patreon Campaign. CAIS has been called "classical testicular feminization" in recognition of this process. It has also been labeled "male pseudohermaphroditism. The designation "male pseudohermaphroditism" gained parlance in the Victorian era. During the nineteenth century, doctors looked to gonads to determine sex assignment when genitals were "unclear" or, in CAIS individuals, when normal sex development — such as menstruation — did not occur.

Gonads were seen as primary for two reasons. First, reproduction was viewed as the principal marker for sex identification.

Second, scientific knowledge of gonadal hormone production and gonadal influence on sex development was growing. Within the Victorian schema, the CAIS patient, with male gonads and female genitalia, would be considered a "male" on account of "his" testes, but a "pseudohermaphrodite" on account of "her" genitals and secondary sex traits. On the flip side, a person with male external genitals and ovaries would have been labeled a "female pseudohermaphrodite.

While in the Victorian era persons with AIS would have been considered "men" by the medical establishment, today these individuals are overwhelmingly declared to be women.


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They look like girls at birth. They look like women after puberty. Paradoxically, CAIS women develop along the lines of the contemporary, Western ideal of womanhood: they are tall and lean, with little to no body hair. Additionally, these individuals typically have unquestioned female gender identities and roles until confronted with their diagnosis, either at puberty or as adults. Partial androgen insensitivity is less common than the complete form, occurring approximately in only 1 in , births Whereas individuals with CAIS appear "unambiguously" female, persons with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome PAIS have bodies that fall anywhere along the spectrum.

Sex Difference in Christian Theology : Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God

The scale runs from AIS Grade 1 to Grade 7 with increasing severity of androgen resistance — and hence decreasing masculinization with increasing feminization. Some babies with PAIS may be raised as males but many are re-assigned as female Before puberty, individuals with Grade 6 or 7 are indistinguishable. Some individuals with complete androgen insensitivity reject the label intersex. They consider themselves females and resent association with those whose sex or gender identities are less certain.

On the other hand, individuals with partial androgen insensitivity, especially those resulting in ambiguous genitals, are more likely to resonate with intersex terminology and the efforts of intersex advocacy groups. Despite recent efforts by some AIS support groups to distance themselves from intersex concerns, the question of intersex remains.

What should determine sex assignment: external genitalia or internal gonads, reproductive structures or personal gender identity? The shifting opinion of the medical community over the years illustrates how scientific categories as basic as sex difference are nevertheless subject to social construction. When society e. When the medical or psychological establishment considers external genitalia and personal gender identity as primary, persons with CAIS are labeled as "really" women. Given the reality of social construction for sex among the intersexed, it is valid to question the entire schema within which such construction currently takes place.

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Should they be given a third option, intersex, along with the traditional categories, male and female? Some have proposed an even more nuanced scheme, wherein one would combine labels. Thus, a person with CAIS who identifies as a woman would be considered an "intersex woman. Fausto-Sterling once suggested public recognition of the five sex categories used by medical doctors since the Victorian period: male, female, male pseudohermaphrodite, female pseudohermaphrodite, and true hermaphrodite. If people want to identify as a particular sex, or as intersex, let them. Some may want to identify as male or female during their reproductive years, so as to find a suitable partner, and then change designation at other nonreproductive seasons of life.

They ask: What's the harm? We will return to their proposals toward the end of this chapter, but now we turn to one condition formerly known as "female pseudohermaphroditism. It is an "inherited enzyme deficiency condition, causing a malfunction of the fetus's adrenal gland, which results in the overproduction of fetal androgen.

Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the ...

Higher levels of androgens "can make XX embryos have larger than average clitorises, or even a clitoris that looks rather like a penis, or labia that look like a scrotum. At the same time, "in a small number of cases, virilization is so extensive that genetic females are misidentified as males at birth and assigned and reared as boys until other consequences of the CAH syndrome result in a correct diagnosis. Usually, this occurs sufficiently early to allow reassignment to the female sex.

However, in some cases it does not. XX individuals with CAH do not have testes or Mullerian Inhibiting Factor, and so they retain female internal reproductive organs and are capable of reproducing. Virilization does not stop after the birth of the child.