Intersex people are born with sex characteristics, such as chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies".[1]

Intersex people were historically termed hermaphrodites, "congenital eunuchs",[2][3] or even congenitally "frigid".[4] Such terms have fallen out of favor, now considered to be misleading and stigmatizing.[5] Intersex people have been treated in different ways by different religions and cultures, and numerous historical accounts exist.


Further information: Androgynos and Tumtum (Judaism)

The Talmud contains extensive discussion concerning the status of two intersex types in Jewish law; namely the androginus, which exhibits both male and female external sexual organs, and the tumtum which exhibits neither. The nature of the androgynous is a topic first expanded upon explicitly in the Mishna, where debate arises as to the individual’s classification as either male or female. The Talmud discusses it primarily in two places, in Tractate Bikkurim[6] and in Tractate Yevamot.[7] One opinion in Tractate Bikkurim indicates that the androgynos has elements of the male, elements of the female, elements of both, and elements of neither.[8] The other opinion insists that the androgynos is its own sex - a category unto itself.[9] Yevamot conducts a much lengthier analysis, where a variety of different approaches are considered in light of the opinions established in Bikkurim. In these discussions, the Talmudic personalities delineate four theoretical categories into which the androgynos may fall:

Jewish Law has specific legal obligation that differ for men and women, and thus gender becomes an exceedingly important aspect of one’s identity.

When determining the legal gender of androgynos individuals, a minority of Jewish Law decisors, “posek”, classify androgynos individuals as completely male. Therefore, androgynos individuals would be obligated by law in the same way as men.[10] However, the majority of Talmudic commentators and Jewish Law decisors do not assign androgynos individuals a fixed gender, and instead leave them in a status of doubtful identity.[10] Because of the androgynos person’s uncertain identity, they can be classified differently in varying cases - sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes both male and female, and other times neither. The legal ramifications of such an attitude forces the individual to adhere to Jewish law as both a male and female.[11] According to this classification, in cases where the law differs for men and women, androgynos individuals must adhere to the stricter option. For example, time-bound positive mitzvot (commandments) that men are obligated to keep and women are exempted, androgynos individuals must keep the obligation. Those who classify an androgynos individual as definitively both male and female would agree with this principle, though practice may differ in certain cases.[9] The difference between classifying an androgynos individual as only male or as a doubtful identity would manifest itself in a case where performing a commandment would also require a blessing in conjunction. According to those who maintain that an androgynos has an uncertain sex, the individual would not recite the blessing. This is because the only men may recite this blessing, and if the individual isn't a man, they would be reciting the blessing in vain. However, according to the opinions who maintain that the individual is fully male, then they would recite the blessing as any other male would.


Eunuchs are mentioned many times in the Bible, such as in the Book of Isaiah (56:4) using the word סריס (saris). Matthew establishes that the term refers to some individuals from birth, as well as individuals made eunuchs through castration:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

— Matthew 19:12

The reference to "eunuchs" in Matthew 19:12 has yielded various interpretations.

Roman law and post-classical Canon law referred to a person's sex as male, female or hermaphrodite, with legal rights as male or female depending on the characteristics that appeared most dominant. Under Roman law, a hermaphrodite had to be classed as either male or female.[12]

The 12th-century Decretum Gratiani states that "Whether an hermaphrodite may witness a testament, depends on which sex prevails".[13][14][15] According to Raming, Macy and Cook, the Canon lawyer Huguccio states that, "If someone has a beard, and always wishes to act like a man (excercere virilia) and not like a female, and always wishes to keep company with men and not with women, it is a sign that the male sex prevails in him and then he is able to be a witness, where a woman is not allowed".[15] On ordainment, Raming, Macy and Cook found that the Decretum Gratiani states, "item Hermafroditus. If therefore the person is drawn to the feminine more than the male, the person does not receive the order. If the reverse, the person is able to receive but ought not to be ordained on account of deformity and monstrosity."[15]

On August 29, 2017, the evangelical Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in the United States released a manifesto on human sexuality known as the "Nashville Statement".[16] The statement states in part, "WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female. WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female" and, "WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known. WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ."[17] Due to perceived homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny, the Nashville Statement has attracted controversy.[18][19][20]


See also: Islamic sexual jurisprudence § Intersex individuals

Scholars of Islamic jurisprudence have detailed discussions on the status and rights of intersex based on what mainly exhibits in their external sexual organs. The intersex rights includes rights of inheritance, rights to marriage, rights to live like any other male or female.[citation needed]

An intersex person is called a Khunthaa in the books of Fiqh.[citation needed]

Intersex medical interventions are considered permissible to achieve agreement between a person’s exterior, chromosomal make-up or sex organs. They are regarded as treatment and not the altering of Allah’s creation or imitation of the opposite sex.[citation needed]


Main article: Philippine religion

Lakapati is a hermaphrodite[21] and a major fertility deity in the Tagalog religion.[22] Her prowess on fertility covers not only human and divine fertility, but also the fertility of all other things such as wildlife, crops, trees, and plants. She is also the goddess of cultivated land. A prayer dedicated to Lakapati was recited by children when sowing seeds: "Lakapati, pakanin mo yaring alipin mo; huwag mong gutumin (Lakapati, feed this thy slave; let him not hunger)".[23][24] Prominent among deities who received full-blown sacrifices, Lakapati is represented by a hermaphrodite image with both male and female parts and was worshiped in the fields at planting time.


Sangam literature uses the word pedi (Tamil: பேடி pēṭi[25]) to refer to people born with an intersex condition; it also refers to antharlinga hijras and various other hijras. Intersex people are popularly known as Mabedi Usili in Hijra community but their identity always remained as a distinct identity from popular hijra community. In Tirumantiram, Tirumular recorded the relationship between intersex people and Shiva.[26] Warne and Raza argue that an association between intersex and hijra people is mostly unfounded, but popular misunderstandings "cause tremendous fear in the parents" of intersex infants and children.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "Free & Equal Campaign Fact Sheet: Intersex" (PDF). United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  2. ^ Mason, H.J., Favorinus’ Disorder: Reifenstein’s Syndrome in Antiquity?, in Janus 66 (1978) 1–13.
  3. ^ Nguyễn Khắc Thuần (1998), Việt sử giai thoại (History of Vietnam's tales), vol. 8, Vietnam Education Publishing House, p. 55
  4. ^ Richardson, Ian D. (May 2012). God's Triangle. Preddon Lee Limited. ISBN 9780957140103.
  5. ^ Dreger, Alice D; Chase, Cheryl; Sousa, Aron; Gruppuso, Phillip A.; Frader, Joel (18 August 2005). "Changing the Nomenclature/Taxonomy for Intersex: A Scientific and Clinical Rationale" (PDF). Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. 18 (8): 729–733. doi:10.1515/JPEM.2005.18.8.729. PMID 16200837. S2CID 39459050. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  6. ^ Mishna, Tractate Bikkurim 4:1-5.
  7. ^ Talmud, Tractate Yevamot 82a-84a.
  8. ^ Mishna, Tractate Bikkurim 4:1.
  9. ^ a b Mishna, Tractate Bikkurim 4:5.
  10. ^ a b Encyclopedia Talmudit, Volume 2, s.v. "אנדרוגינוס".
  11. ^ Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, 12:4.
  12. ^ Lynn E. Roller, "The Ideology of the Eunuch Priest," Gender & History 9.3 (1997), p. 558.
  13. ^ Decretum Gratiani, C. 4, q. 2 et 3, c. 3
  14. ^ "Decretum Gratiani (Kirchenrechtssammlung)". Bayerische StaatsBibliothek (Bavarian State Library). February 5, 2009. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Raming, Ida; Macy, Gary; Bernard J, Cook (2004). A History of Women and Ordination. Scarecrow Press. p. 113.
  16. ^ Meyer, Holly (August 29, 2017). "More than 150 evangelical religious leaders sign 'Christian manifesto' on human sexuality". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  17. ^ "Nashville Statement". Archived from the original on 2017-09-01. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  18. ^ Cruz, Elieln (1 September 2017). "The Nashville Statement Is an Attack on L.G.B.T. Christians". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  19. ^ Beaty, Katelyn (31 August 2017). "Why even conservative evangelicals are unhappy with the anti-LGBT Nashville Statement". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  20. ^ Toumayan, Michael (31 August 2017). "Hundreds of Christian Leaders Denounce the Nashville Statement in an Open Letter". The Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  21. ^ POTET, Jean-Paul G. (2019). Ancient Beliefs and Customs of the Tagalogs. p. 387. ISBN 978-0-244-34873-1. LAKAPATI: LAKAPÁTÌ = the name of the Tagalog hermaphrodite deity, protector of sown fields.
  22. ^ Scott, William Henry (1994). "Chapter 12 - Tagalog Society and Religion". Barangay: Sixteenth-century Philippine Culture and Society. Ateneo University Press. p. 234. ISBN 978-971-550-135-4.
  23. ^ Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay: Sixteenth-century Philippine Culture and Society. Ateneo University Press. p. 234. ISBN 978-971-550-135-4. During sacrifices made in a new field to Lakapati, a major fertility deity, the farmer would hold up a child and say, "Lakapati, pakanin mo yaring alipin mo; huwag mong gutumin [Lakapati, feed this thy slave; let him not hunger]" (San Buenaventura 1613, 361).
  24. ^ POTET, Jean-Paul G. (2019). Ancient Beliefs and Customs of the Tagalogs. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-244-34873-1. Children were taught this prayer to Lakapati. They recited it when they sowed seeds.
  25. ^ University of Madras (1924–1936). "Tamil Lexicon, 'பேடி'". Madras [Chennai]. Diocesan Press. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  26. ^ Winter, Gopi Shankar (2014). Maraikkappatta Pakkangal: மறைக்கப்பட்ட பக்கங்கள். Srishti Madurai. ISBN 9781500380939. OCLC 703235508.
  27. ^ Warne, Garry L.; Raza, Jamal (September 2008). "Disorders of sex development (DSDs), their presentation and management in different cultures". Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. 9 (3): 227–236. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s11154-008-9084-2. ISSN 1389-9155. PMID 18633712. S2CID 8897416.