‘Intersexuality’ is an umbrella term that was coined by medical discourse and practice. It refers to conditions in which a person is born with sex characteristics that do not entirely fit the prevalent definitions of “female” or “male”.
The term ‘intersexuality’ was coined by the geneticists Richard Goldschmidt in 1915/16. In 2006, it was internationally replaced by DSD (disorders of sex development) in medical language. However, the use of “disorders” in this acronym suggests that some variations of the human body are “normal” and, therefore, more desirable than others. From this perspective, bodies that do not meet the norm are considered “atypical” or “dysfunctional”.
Nowadays, some intersex people still use ‘intersexuality’ as a (neutral) self-designation. Others reject the term, as they feel pathologised by it. In German-speaking contexts, the suffix ‘-sexuality’ is sometimes misleading due to its formal similitude to sexual orientations like heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. For this reason, people tend to use “inter*” or the German form ‘Intergeschlechtlichkeit’ in these contexts.