I is for Intersex


Biological sex isn’t always as clear-cut as “everyone is either male or female”. There are whole classes of ways someone can be in between. Rather than risk getting anything wrong on about a topic like this I’m just going to provide a link.


Alice, one of the main characters in Project Quintessence, is intersex. Her specific condition isn’t named because, well, I couldn’t find a name for it. (The details are modeled after a real person, but that person doesn’t know a specific name for it either.)

Anyway, she superficially resembles a “hermaphrodite” enough to be compared to one in-story, but she’s not one; I’ve cut out the scene that has the following exchange because the scene it’s part of is a mostly boring infodump and all the important information revealed there is mentioned more naturally later, but everything this part says is still true.

“No. I have also been wondering; can Alice get me pregnant?”

“No. No testes, no sperm. She’s a girl with nonstandard equipment, not a hermaphrodite.

“I hope she wasn’t offended when told her she looks like one, then. But she said the doctors thought she was a boy when she was born.”

“Those doctors were wrong. When Alice needed an MRI for an unrelated reason, we found out she has ovaries, and even a uterus, though she’d need medical assistance to actually become pregnant…which is fine because she’d probably prefer that over the natural way anyway.”

 I really kind of liked the bolded line, but you know what they say about writing; “Kill your darlings”.

4 thoughts on “I is for Intersex”

  1. Very interesting! I want to read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides this summer. I took a class about the biology of sex (mostly in animals, but also people) and the non-standard sexes fascinated me. Project Quintessence sounds great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting that most animals have male and female, but there’s a lot of variation in what makes them that way. Only mammals use the well-known XX/XY chromosome system.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many genetic knittings going on when a child is developing. One tiny blip or hic-cup in the process by natural or other means and surprising things can happen. Sounds like Alice has a fairly rare condition. Which should open up some interesting avenues you could pursue.
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