Moving one letter forward in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum brings us to ‘I’, which is a somewhat misunderstood and misconstrued category – intersex. In a nutshell, it covers a number of different medical and congenital issues relating to the sexual/reproductive systems. Among the many publications that have sought to explain exactly what intersex means, the legendary Time magazine probably did the best job when it described it as referring to ‘someone whose anatomy or genetics at birth – the X and Y chromosomes that are usually XX for women and XY for men – do not correspond to the typical expectations of either sex’. Intersex is therefore distinctly different to transgender, because people in the latter category are usually born with a biological sex that conforms to societal expectations of male/female. If all this has you struggling to keep up, why not chill out with gay massage before reading further here at Tantric Soul?

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Some intersex people are – from birth – visibly different to the rest of us. Their physical characteristics, including primary and secondary sexual characteristics, are not completely male or completely female. However, there is not simply one type of intersex person. Some may have male chromosomes but female external body parts. Or they may have body parts that are incomplete. Sometimes, there is no immediate evidence of intersex status and it only becomes apparent during puberty.

One of the hot-button issues facing intersex persons is surgery. There can be pressure to conduct ‘genital-normalising’ surgery on a child, in order to make the child completely male or completely female. Problems arise later on – for example, doctors could perform surgery in order to assign a child ‘female’ status. Then, some years later, it turns out that the child identifies as male and the surgical choices were wrong. It can be too late to wholly rectify the situation. Consequently, in some quarters it is seen as preferable to wait until the child can tell surgeons exactly what gender they are. Alternatively, the child might decide that there is no need to use surgery and that they are happy living with a mix of male/female characteristics.

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We’re still just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing how many people in the world are intersex. Estimates suggest that roughly 1 in 2000 babies are born with anomalies in the sexual characteristics of their body. An important thing to remember, and which your gay massage therapist could probably tell you, is that the term hermaphrodite is considered outmoded and offensive to intersex people. It’s an old-fashioned word regarded as sensationalist tabloid-speak today. And, of course, controversy rages on as to whether the inclusion of ‘I’ under the LGBT+ umbrella is warranted. But whatever the case, gay massage is something that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter how they identify, so be assured that the next time you make a booking, at Tantric Soul you are valued as a person, regardless of labels.

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