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If a person has female sex chromosomes XX, then the person is a female; and if a person has a Y chromosome, then that makes him a male. What if the picture is not such a simplistic black and white one? What if there are degrees of maleness and femaleness determined by not only our (sex) chromosomes, but also our hormones, cell receptors, events such as pregnancy, mutation, other (autosomal) genes, and subtle changes during embryonic development? Some people (as many as 1 in every 100 people) do not neatly fall into clear categories of male and female; they can be anywhere in this gender spectrum – such as more male, less female; or more female, less male.

Even as scientists discover more about this biological spectrum, society still lags behind in being tolerant towards intersex individuals. Though we have softened our stand, we look down on individuals who do not strictly fall in the category of either male or female. There are more complex questions for which we have no easy answers. For example, how does one raise a child whose gender is not clear especially if the country in question does not legally allow such cases?

http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

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