Dominant contemporary definitions of sexual classification are founded on the socially constructed, binary and mutually exclusive sex categories of male and female. However, the sex of humans, animals, and plants can better be understood on a spectrum of characteristics associated with the biological category of sex. Intersex, previously known as hermaphroditism, is an umbrella term used to describe biological variations that present in humans as statistically atypical combinations of male and female primary and secondary sex characteristics. Such variations begin as genetic and metabolic processes occurring during fetal sex differentiation. Levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment are also responsible changes to sex characteristics. Variations may be apparent at birth, or later childhood or adolescence, especially around the time of hormonal changes with puberty.

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