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ambiguous genitalia

a term typically used by medical practitioners to describe the genitals of intersex infants whose genitalia do not appear as ‘typically’ either male or female. Such an example would be genitalia that are not “completely developed”, or display characteristics of both male and female anatomies. Considered a “disorder of sex development” in medical terminology.

People with “ambiguous genitalia” may have other intersex variations that aren’t immediately apparent; similarly, those without “ambiguous genitalia” may possess other intersex variations.

A pressing human rights issue in this regard is so-called “corrective surgery” which seeks to cosmetically alter an infant’s genitalia or physical anatomy without their consent to “normalise” their intersex variations.

“Ambiguous genitalia”, like “disorder of sex development”, are terms that are considered problematic and rejected by many intersex people.

Originally published: 9th December, 2020
Last modified: February 14, 2022