When we're taught that biological sex can only be one of two things — male or female — the thought that anything exists outside of those boundaries can be daunting, and hard to wrap your head around. The reality is, though, some people aren't biologically male or female. Some people are intersex, and it really isn't all that complicated.
But the more people who understand intersex identity, the less isolated intersex people will feel. So, the creators behind Queer Kid Stuff — an educational video series on YouTube that teaches kids about gender and sexuality — dedicated their latest video to explaining what being intersex means.
The host of the show, Lindsay, and her gender non-conforming bear, Teddy, invited a friend who identifies as intersex on the show to talk about what being intersex means to her.
Claudia Astorino, an intersex activist and writer for Everyone Is Gay, explained to Lindsay and Teddy that "intersex people have bodies that aren't easily defined as boy bodies or girl bodies." And that being intersex means that people can have "some parts we expect most boys to have, some body parts we expect girls to have, and sometimes traits that most girls or boys don't have, all in the same body."
Being intersex isn't a sexuality, and it isn't a gender, Astorino explains. Intersex people can identify as men, women, intersex, or any other gender, she says, and can identify as straight, queer, gay, bisexual, or any other sexuality.
To illustrate how isolating it can be for everyone to think of sex as only male or female, Lindsay and Astorino use the idea of a world where people expect to only ever eat apples or bananas.
"But one day, you come across an orange," Lindsay says. Teddy is shocked at the idea that in a world where only apples and bananas are supposed to exist, there can also be an orange.
"An orange showing up in a place where there are only apples and bananas is exactly what it's like being intersex in a world where people think there are only boys and girls," Astorino says.
Intersex kids often grow up learning in school and from their peers that you are either a boy or a girl, which can be harmful for their understanding of themselves, according to the Intersex Society of North America.
But more representation and understanding of what it means to be intersex — like this video, people who have publicly come out as intersex, and stories from intersex people — can help to diminish the confusion and isolation intersex people often feel, as more people understand that sex isn't a one or the other thing.