Can hermaphrodites ejaculate?

  • No. Hermaphrodite is not a term typically used for human biology, to start with.

    Using the broadest possible definition, hermaphrodite refers to having both male and female sex characteristics. This does describe a portion of the human population, though the term typically used in most modern contexts is intersex. You still might see the term hermaphrodite used in older literature, however.

    The popular culture understanding of a human hermaphrodite, a person with two sets of fully functioning genitalia, does not reflect the biological reality of intersex people. Male and female genitalia both develop from the same starting point, just following different paths. For example, fetuses have tissue that we call the genital tubercle which develops into a clitoris or penis, and testes and ovaries also start out as the same thing. So some intersex people have a clitoris and testes, but not a clitoris and a penis. Or they might have an organ which is somewhat like a penis would be expected to be, but also a bit like a clitoris, maybe of an unusual size, or it has mostly characteristics of a penis but the urethral opening is on the underneath instead of the tip. There are also a great variety of intersex conditions which are not anything like these examples, and might have more to do with chromosomes, or hormones, or how they affect secondary sex characteristics.

    However, intersex is not the same as nonbinary.

    To understand this, we need to separate two ideas: sex and gender. While these often are used to mean the same thing, there are two ideas in this one concept that are not always the same, and language is leaning towards sex being used for the biological term that deals with the kind of thing we were just looking at, and gender for the sociological term.

    So sex is male, female, or intersex. It’s about biology, about your chromosomes and your hormones and your genitals and your secondary sex characteristics (that’s things like body hair patterns and how deep your voice is and whether you have breasts).

    What’s gender, then? Gender is about the roles you are playing in society and which group you’re seen as part of. Gender is a thing that humans made, based on sex, but not the same as it. That’s why we call it a ‘social construct’ sometimes. This doesn’t mean that it’s not real. Humans also make things like money and laws, which are very real and affect our lives. Just like gender. Gender is calling people men and women and girls and boys, using different pronouns, having girls names and boys names and girls clothes and boys clothes.

    Binary gender is the two big gender groups in western society – men and women, like the two big sex groups, so people who don’t fit into those groups are called nonbinary. People of all sexes call themselves nonbinary. Nonbinary people might use gender neutral pronouns, or dressing androgynously, or not being called man or woman or boy or girl. They also might use feminine pronouns but mostly present masculine, or mostly appear to fit into one of the binary gender categories but feel uncomfortable being categorized into a binary gender.

    Some nonbinary people might also change their genitalia or secondary sex characteristics through surgery, and/or take hormones which change their secondary sex characteristics, and may end up with a mix of male and female sex indicators. Unless they were intersex already, these people don’t become intersex, because that’s a word which is used for a specific set of experiences which are different to the experiences of someone who chose to change their sex characteristics as an adult. There isn’t a specific word for this group of people commonly used, probably because it’s not something they want to be defined by. Binary trans men and women who do fit into one of the two big gender groups also often fit into the category of people who have a mix of sex characteristics through hormones and surgery, too.

    Most nonbinary people were born with a male or female sex, and most intersex people have a male or female gender. Most intersex people are also raised either male or female by their parents and treated as either male or female by the society they grow up in. Nonbinary intersex people do exist, but being intersex doesn’t make you nonbinary, and being nonbinary doesn’t make you intersex.

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