Understanding Hermaphrodites

The material bodily condition known as Hermaphrodite

Hermaphrodite - a medical condition

Human Hermaphrodites

The material bodily condition known as Hermaphrodite

The nature known as hermaphrodite or Tritiya Prakriti is wrongly equated to modern homosexuality; in fact they are very much opposed in many ways. The Vedik culture held Hermaphrodites sacred due to a naturally occurring phenomena, which had special qualities attached to them. Unlike lusty homosexual communities and individuals who are condemned by the Acharyas due to their absorption in the bodily concept of life and exploitation of their lusty desires that they impose into society. The Hermaphrodite is well known for being of little or no sexual appetite, and thus free from such a mundane absorption of a sexual nature. Thus by many the Tritiya Prakriti (Third sex) were considered sacred because of being free from sexual urges like the rest of society was, plus they could understand and relate insights from both sexes, thus they were considered in some ways wise.

Later various warlords wanted to artificially imitate the detachment of the hermaphrodites from sexual urges in guarding their accumulated wives, and concubines. However, as most hermaphrodites tend to be fermaphrodites (with female bodily overall development) the warlords who had these harems, the Sultans devised an artificial means of gaining a similar effect in forcing “detachment”, while utilizing the male form by making captured males into eunuchs. The eunuch and the hermaphrodite are again completely different despite again some equation by some devious persons to suggest that ambiguous genitalia and removal of male genitalia is the same thing, which they are not.

So in this way many misrepresentations and devious plots were made by lusty people to falsely claim to be “of the third sex” (Tritiya prakriti) as mentioned in Shastra by engaging in all manner of debauched sexual practices against Vedik culture. Actually the hermaphrodite bodily situation is not a chosen or selected sexual preference for sensual abuse and exploitation like that of the homosexual and all its variants. Studies have revealed it to be quite the opposite in fact, while having both sexes they opt for no sex. While on the other side some tried to impose sacred detachment on others by artificially removing their opportunity for sex by making them seemingly sexless.

What is considered today True Hermaphrodites, which occur roughly to some degree or another in one in 2000 persons are a totally different thing.

Sadly due to pressure by modern society to define and explore avenues of sexuality so that they fit in and become socially accepted, again forms of surgical alteration are performed on young girls (fermaphrodites) who show that they also have a male genitalia, and it is removed, and the female genitalia sculptured to “normality”. Similarly those young boys (mermaphrodites) who are primarily soft-masculine it is revealed also have a female genitalia are operated on to close the labia and thus fit to social normality.

In Vedik astrology the hermaphrodite issue is extended into inclination issues coming from mixtures of the potencies of the Janma nakshatra (birth constellation) as well as the physical gender of the person. Such combinations might make a person with a male body have soft nature of a female nakshatra such as Swati or Sravan, or Dhanistha, and similarly one born with a female body might have male inclinations due to such Janma nakshatras as Pushyami, Purva Bhadrapad, or Hasta. While still others of male or female gender might have a hermaphrodite Janma nakshatra, such as Satabhisakam (some say Mula and Mrigasira too). However, this is not to say that all persons with those nakshatras are hermaphrodites, yet studies have found that many of hermaphrodite nakshatras do indeed have a tendency toward either genital deformity (mal-formed, excessively large or small genitalia) etc.

So some might say that more than Tritiya Prakriti (three sexes) there are in fact Pancha Prakriti (five sexes); 1/. male with male nakshatra, 2/. Female with female nakshatra, 3/. Male with female nakshatra, and 4/. Female with male nakshatra, and 5/. The hermaphrodite.

This short explanation makes sense of the inclinations that people have with feeling radical urges to go out and change their gender artificially, or try to follow strong pressure of bewildered peers or elders (in some cases) to follow a path of lusty misidentification as an homosexual adherent as condemned in these pages.

Certainly devotees may come from any walk of life, but the clear seeing Acharya Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur openly declares in his Sri Chaitanya Shikshamrita that there are two kinds of devotees, the Ordinary Devotee, and the Transcendentally Situated devotee. Those persons who have emerged over the past few years declaring themselves as Gay and Lesbian Vaishnavas are situated in the Ordinary Devotee section and can only graduate to the Transcendental stage of devotees when they give up illicit sexual connection that is non-productive being homosexual in nature. When they rise to follow the regulative principles of the Kanistha adhikari then their status changes to aspiring to be Transcendentally Situated.

The above point is very important in keeping the sanity of the parampara, and not cheapening the worth and quality of being factually detached from mundane bodily inclinations. Unless we remind ourselves and appreciate those who have genuinely made a sacrifice in focusing on the service of the Lord, the indiscriminate blending in some artificial equilateral oneness will have great harmful effects on Vaishnava society. There’s no harm being an Ordinary devotee, in fact better an ordinary devotee than a non-devotee, but a Transcendentally Situated devotee, especially those who are in the Madhyama stage of steadiness (Nistha and above) who do not struggle to follow the regulative principles of freedom, who rather are situated in them, free from Anarthas, are special and worthy of taking shelter of.

The Ordinary devotee often just goes along with life unable or un-desirous of understanding that they are different from their body, it’s demands, and dictates, and often gives in to those demands. The Ka-nistha (un-steady) adhikari struggles with becoming situated in the Transcendental status, and with good association, and regulating practical service to the Lord and the devotees in time one can become fixed and gain a taste. This is a most desirous platform for developing rapid advancement in devotional service.

Instead of declaring ourselves by bodily inclination or such designation (Gay and Lesbian – male or female, or Hermaphrodite) Bhaktivinod Thakur and all the Acharyas strongly suggest that we instead give up all such “dharmas” (“isms” and or material designations and inclinations) as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita’s 18:68 and surrender unto the Lord’s plan.

I hope that these few lines make things clearer, and enthuse all to gain further realization to who we are, our purpose, and reformation of our character to please the Lord more and more daily as He gives us the taste that we are always hungry for (Bhagavad Gita 2:59.) visaya vinivartante…..etc and not to dwell on the misinformation or misunderstanding that we are of a particular sexual preference firstly and forget about all higher taste as mentioned in this verse. If we are at all to get out of this maya we must understand who we really are, that we are not these bodies, that we are not the puppets to dance in the hands of the senses, rather we are eternal spiritual beings free from these lusty aims that cause us so much lamentation, frustration, anger and cause us repeated birth and death in this world.....this we MUST know !!!!!

We are jivera swarupa hoya krsnera nitya dasa, no mention of inclination to what the MATERIAL senses lean toward..........

Hermaphrodite - a medical condition
Intersexuality Defined:  A person who is born between (inter) sexes, having partially or fully developed pairs of female and male sex organs.  Intersexual is prefered over the word hermaphrodite.
Origin of the Term:  Hermaphroditus, the merger of the mythological Greek god, Hermes, and goddess, Aphrodite, into one body.  In fact, intersexed people do not consider themselves to be both sexes.
The Issue of Sexual Assignment at Birth...
   From the moment of birth, everybody wants to know if it is a boy or a girl.  This question can be complicated when a third option is introduced.  One out of every two thousand children in America is born intersexual (125,000 living in the United States today--enough to fill a good sized city). There is a point in fetal development when the sex of the child could go either way.  The only reason you are not the opposite sex had to do with something called testosterone.  The fetus that becomes a male is bathed with it, whereas, it is absent in the development of a female.  In one case, the sexual organ extends itself into a penis.  Conversely, a fetus becomes female when there is no release of testosterone and the sexual organ extends inwardly.  The natural development from that moment on determines which sex we are to become.
   However, sometimes biology malfunctions and children are born with mixed sexual characteristics in what is called an intersexual birth.  For some intersexuals, whether they are boys or girls is never really clear to them.  Many argue that the standard practice of sexual assignment by surgery in infancy should be discontinued giving the intersexual the right to choose or not to choose surgery once that individual reaches adolescence.  Whatever the choice, intersexuals show us that gender is infinitely more complex than the shape of our genitals.
Five Sexes... What are herms, merms and ferms?
These terms were used by Anne Fausto-Sterling in her 1993 article in _The Sciences_ "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are not enough". Herm refers to "true hermaphrodite"; a merm would be a person born intersexed whose karyotype was XY (nominally male) and a ferm is an XX intersexed person (nominally female). These delineations serve to educate people that sex is not a bipolar dichotomy, but they do not really classify intersexed people themselves in any meaningful way.
   If abnormalities of cell division occur, a fetus with mosaicism may result. The baby may have both cells with 46 XY chromosomes and cells with 46 XX chromosomes. This is the condition referred to a hermorphoditism.  Because both male and female cells exist within the same fetus, both male and female structures develop. Typically, the penis is not completely virilized (hypospadias). One or both testes may not be palpable or they may be palpable, but undescended. Whenever you see an infant with both hypospadias and an undescended testis (cryptorchidism), the result is hermaphroditism.
   Hydroxylase deficiency in female embryos causes androgenic stimulation and development of the genital tubercle and labio-scrotal folds just as normal production of testosterone does in male embryos. This can result in a female infant having marked enlargement of the clitoris to the degree that it takes the appearance of a penis and fusion of the labioscrotal folds into a scrotum-like structure.
Understanding the Complexities of Intersexuality...
   Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote, "At birth, instead of hearing the inevitable pronouncement of "boy" or "girl" new parents might excitedly await a much expanded range of possibilities. Herms, ferms, and merms, being the rarer birth events might come to be seen as especially blessed or lucky, having as they do the best of all possible worlds, sexually speaking. Herms, merms and ferms might become the most desirable of all possible mates able as they are to pleasure their partners in a variety of ways. Furthermore, the existence of three additional sexes would open up possibilities for the rest of us. It would become difficult to maintain a clear conceptualization of homosexuality, for example, and perhaps its current contentious status would fade from view. If we envision the world in fives instead of twos, it would also be more difficult to hold onto rigid constructions of male and female sex roles. ...Should we have only two sexes?--my answer would be a resounding no."
Where are Intersexed People?
   Those who realize that intersexed people really do exist may wonder, "If there may be as many as one out of two thousand people affected by some form of intersex condition, then where are they?  Why don't we hear more about them or have more information about their lives?
   The answer is that most intersexed people have a very, difficult time with the personal issues which surround them.  There is a relatively small group of out-of-the-closet intersexuals in the world.  This number is steadily growing but the vast majority of them live with the silence, shame, and fear that they learned as children and teens. Other misunderstood minorities have made great strides in being recognized and accepted. There are thousands of books written by gay men and women and even dozens on the subject of transsexuality.
   The reason may be that most intersexed people have been subjected to very powerful family, medical, and societal proscriptions about their bodies or medical status. This begins from the very moment of birth for most of them because that is usually when the question is first asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?"
  Intersexuals who are subjected to neonatal surgery undergo an early physical trauma resulting in a lifelong trauma on many levels.  Intersexuals who miss early surgery often grow up alone and confused.  They are also often abused because of their "in between" status.  Surgery as young teens and adults to "correct" their bodies is also traumatic and may not have a satisfactory outcome.  It all adds up to one thing: a very strong desire to keep quiet and not tell anyone about their being intersexed.
-   Another factor may be abuse. Some intersexed chidren are abused by peers and family due to their intersexuality. But there is also a sort of institutionalized abuse which takes its toll as well. The constant dehumanizing exams and case studies are painful, humiliating and upsetting for a child or young teenager. The result is a desire to never have to talk or deal with the subject ever again.
Relationships With Intersexed People...
   Unlike other communities outside the realm of hetrosexual thinking, intersexed people are not thought of in sexual terms as much as in medical terms.  Society has forced them to remain in the closet.  They have been left alone to deal with their ongoing battle to stop the travesty of early childhood gender assignment mutilation.
   However, becoming aware that their numbers constitute a sizeable population should be enough to seriously get our attention.  They are human beings who love and have the same need as all of us to be loved in return.  As in the hetrosexual community, some have little or no desire for primary relationships or physical intimacy, whereas, others enjoy the same with committed mates and are living happy, productive, and fulfilling lives.
   The lesson here is that we need to stop viewing intersexual people as some kind of biological mistake or oddity.  They are indeed a natural manifestation of God's design and fully invested citizens of the human race. In fact, their very existence forces the most conservative religious people to reconsider their own attitudes toward those who do not fit what has been considered as the traditional understanding of a two sex only society.
   There are many of them who enjoy wonderful relationships with those who not only accept them, but love them in the deeply.  To think that a dual gendered individual could not enjoy such things as a result of some kind of "birth defect" is false thinking to say the least.
   There are more things in this world than most of us have ever imagined or could even begin to dream about.  The very fact that intersexed people walk among us, live real lives, and have probably crossed most of our paths at one time or another should motivate us to revisit the narrow confines of our own thinking.  They remind us that the world is a place of wonder and filled with people whose experience is not limited to the norms of any given culture, age, or society.
   They are not asking for tolerence.  What they deserve as human beings is full acceptance and love.
   That's the right of any human being regardless of their sexual orientation.
   Otherwise, God would not have allowed them to exist amongst us.

Human Hermaphrodites

Hermaphroditism is when an animal has both testicular and ovarian tissues. Sometimes one gonad becomes a testis while the other becomes an ovary; sometimes the gonads become "ovotestes" containing a mixture of male and female components. Hermaphroditism occurs rarely in human populations, and the view that it is pathological (i.e., a disease state) is changing. Although hermaphroditism is often associated with infertility, that is not always the case. Indeed, in the 1600s, a hermaphrodite living as a woman was put to death after having impregnated his/her master's daughter (see Fausto-Sterling, 1993). The medical problems of hermaphrodites are not usually that of sex but of other bodily functions thrown out of register by anatomical shifts (such as tumors from undescended testes).

Anne Fausto-Sterling (1993, 2000) and Alice D. Dreger (1998) have written eloquently about the problems of hermaphroditism. Often, if not always, she claims, the problems are those of a society that insists on one sex per body and that is uncomfortable with the concept of hermaphrodites. The hermaphrodites, themselves, seem rather well adjusted. Indeed, our language does not recognize any sexual system except that of dualism, and one can't even write about the experiences of hermaphrodites without using phrases such as (s)he or his/her.

Classifying newborn infants as to whether they are male or female is usually straightforward. One looks at the phallus and sees whether it is a penis (long) or clitoris (short). One looks to see if there are two labia (vaginal lips) or if they have fused into a scrotum. One also can look to see if the urethra (the excretory tube from the bladder) opens through the phallus (as in males) or if it has a separate opening (as in females). However, sometimes nature does not give you an either/or situation. Guinet and Decourt (1969) for instance, described 98 cases of "true" hermaphroditism, wherein a person had both ovarian and testicular tissue. In some cases, the phallus is somewhere in between that of a penis and a clitoris. In some cases, the labia were partially fused and the urethra ran close to the phallus. In such cases, the menstrual blood exited during urination. Some hermaphrodites had penises and large breasts.

Hermaphrodites have created some interesting situations. In 1843, Levi Suydam, a 23 year old resident of Salisbury, Connecticut, asked the town magistrates to validate his right to vote as a Whig in a particularly divisive local election. The opposition party raised objections, saying that Levi was really a woman and therefore unable to vote. A doctor examined him and declared that he had a penis and was therefore a man. Duydam voted and the Whig candidate won by a single vote. Within a few days after the election, Suydam had his monthly menstrual bleeding (Fausto-Sterling, 1993). Hugh Young (1937) relates that one of his patients, a hermaphrodite named Emma had a penis-sized clitoris and a vagina. Raised as a girl, she could have "normal" heterosexual relationships with both men and women. And she did. She functioned sexually as both male and female all her adult life.

However, as medicine became more sophisticated, it decided that society did not tolerate hermaphrodites and parents wanted their babies to be either male or female. In the early 1900s, "true" sex was said to be the sex of the gonads. Thus, people having androgen insensitivity syndrome were classified as "really" males, even though their entire physical appearance and usually their sexual orientation was female (Dreger, 1998). It was thought that society could not deal with people who were not either one or the other sex. (And, as Dreger demonstrates, this was stated explicitly by several physicians). Our birth registries still demand that a newborn be quickly placed into one or the other category, and in the early 1900s, knowledge of the "true" sex of a person was thought to be critical to prevent inadvertent homosexual relations. Our current classification scheme of male and female pseudohermaphrodites reflects this gonadal (and later, chromosomal) assignment of sex. A male pseudohermaphrodite (usually caused by androgen receptor mutations) has a female phenotype but male gonads, while a female pseudohermaphrodite (usually caused by congenital adrenal hyperplasia where the adrenal gland secretes testosterone) has a male phenotype but has ovaries.

Starting in the 1960s, babies born with ambiguous genitalia were "assigned" a sex that seemed appropriate based on the genitalia that they had. Those with large phalluses had their labia closed and became males, while those with smaller but still larger than normal phalluses had them surgically shortened and became females. In the 1990s, some of the individuals who were surgically assigned their sex founded the Intersex Society of America (ISNA) and lobbied to speak to physicians to have them change their usual practice of surgically amending nature. Their arguments convinced many physicians that having a baby of ambiguous sex was not a medical emergency, that interventions should be reversible, and that time should be taken to discuss these issues with parents and patients with such conditions. Some physicians have argued that having a child with ambiguous genitalia is an emergency to the parents of such a child who want to know what sex their child is and to tell their friends and relatives that they have either a girl or a boy. The arguments of the ISNA group are summarized in an article by Alice D. Dreger and in presentations comparing surgical intervention with what they hope will be a patient-centered therapy approach.

Fausto-Sterling contends that sex is a continuum rather than a collection of discretely defined phenotypes. She proposes that along this continuum are five points: male, ferm (female pseudohermaphrodite), hermaphrodite, merm (male pseudohermaphrodite), and female. Each has variations that shade into the neighboring point. She estimates the frequency of all sexually mosaic conditions (hermaphrodites and pseudohermaphrodites) in humans to be about 1% of the population.

Hermaphrodites have a long history. Indeed, many traditional cultures believed that the original person was perfect. Perfection means having no wants that need to be satisfied, so the first person was hermaphrodite. This can be seen in Plato's Symposium, where the original form of humanity was hemaphrodite, but when they got too numerous Zeus, decided to split them in half. After having done so, he finds that the now-separate sexes spend all their time trying to join themselves back together. Zeus decides to help these creatures by moving their genitalia such that when any two embraced, they might conceive and thus propagate. In some interpretaions of Genesis, the primal Adam was a hermaphrodite, and the cleaving of this original person into male and female is evidence of the Fall. So, as the saying goes, "No one's perfect."

Literature Cited

Dreger, A. D. 1998. Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Fausto-Sterling, A. 1993. The five sexes: Why male and female are not enough. The Sciences (March/April): 20-24.

Fausto-Sterling, A. 2000. The five sexes, revisited. The Sciences (July/August): 19-23.

Youg, H. H. 1937. Genital Abnormalities, Hermaphroditism, and Related Adrenal Diseases, quoted in Fausto-Sterling, 1993, op. cit., p. 2