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What is Intersex? And other questions

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 percent of all people have some type of “gender dysphoria.” That means the gender that people thought they were physically is in conflict with how they feel.

Intersex: “Sex” is different from “gender.” “Sex” refers to biological and physiological characteristics, like genital organs, hormones the body produces, and chromosomes a body has. If someone is intersex, they were born with those characteristics not completely male or female. According to the Intersex Society of North America, there’s no clear agreement on exactly how to define intersex, but some statistics show it might be far more common than people imagine. For example, babies born with chromosomes that are not XX and not XY, or people having surgery to “normalize” genital appearance — each occur more often than once in 2,000 births.

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RELATED: 5 things to know about being intersex

Transgender: “Gender” is more outwardly constructed, and refers to the attitudes, feelings and behaviors that a culture associates with a particular biological sex. If someone is transgender, they learn that the gender they feel they are is different than the one they were assigned by other people. They may or may not get surgery to align the gender they realize they are with the physical characteristics associated with the gender.

Cisgender: When a person’s gender and biological sex at birth align. It’s important to note that intersex, transgender and cisgender don’t speak to sexual orientation: whether a person is gay or straight.

RELATED: Pressure mounts to curtail surgery on intersex children

The singular pronoun “they”: In media guidelines issued earlier this year by The Associated Press: “In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.”

In addition, the guidelines suggest that when referring to a subject by name, to use the name that person has chosen to accompany the person’s stated gender identification.

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