Female, Male, or Both?


By: Taylor Hall

To most people I know, they don’t believe there are more than two genders. You’re either male or female and there is no in between. But, what happens when you’re born one gender and have the others sex organs? If you walk around the University of Maryland, many people have a hard time grasping that this is even possible. This disorder is called “Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)”. It results in mutations within genes that can alter the development of primary or secondary sex characteristics. Each form of CAH is connected with a specific defective gene. Some alleles result in more severe cases of enzyme deficiency. When its severe, changes in the fetus occur and there are complications with pregnancy. Less mild cases have too much or not enough sex hormones. The mildest cases just interfere with fertility and ovulation in adults.

When females are born with this disorder, they have ambiguous genitalia because of higher concentration of androgens in the uterus. Young woman could get polycystic ovarian syndrome which is when you are a female with too many male hormones. When males are born, they show no symptoms at birth. The age that boys are diagnosed varies from person to person. It all depends on the aldosterone deficiency.

You can go to a doctor for genetic analysis and they will be able to confirm the diagnosis of CAH. Lac of cortisol production is common in most forms of CAH. This stimulates an overgrowth and over activity of the steroids producing cells. It is sometimes quite difficult for these people to determine their sexuality and what they’re attracted to because they have conflicting hormones and feelings. There’s also the question of what gender they feel that they associate with because they have body parts of both genders. Even though you’re born a female, but have male sex organs and a lot of testosterone, do you associate yourself as a guy? There are still so many unanswered questions about this disease. However, there are different treatments the affected people can undergo such as providing replacement testosterone or estrogen at puberty if the person is deficient.

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