Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations.
These developments have been accompanied by International Intersex Forums and increased cooperation amongst civil society organizations.
However, the implementation, codification and enforcement of intersex human rights in national legal systems remains slow.
Intersex people may face stigmatization and discrimination from birth or discovery of an intersex trait.
Dialog between what were once antagonistic groups of activists and clinicians has led to only slight changes in medical policies and how intersex patients and their families are treated in some locations.
During the Victorian era, medical authors introduced the terms "true hermaphrodite" for an individual who has both ovarian and testicular tissue, "male pseudo-hermaphrodite" for a person with testicular tissue, but either female or ambiguous sexual anatomy, and "female pseudo-hermaphrodite" for a person with ovarian tissue, but either male or ambiguous sexual anatomy.
Some later shifts in terminology have reflected advances in genetics, while other shifts are suggested to be due to pejorative associations.
Whether or not they were socially tolerated or accepted by any particular culture, the existence of intersex people was known to many ancient and pre-modern cultures.
The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote of "hermaphroditus" in the first century BCE that Hermaphroditus "is born with a physical body which is a combination of that of a man and that of a woman", and with supernatural properties.
In European societies, Roman law, post-classical canon law, and later common law, referred to a person's sex as male, female or hermaphrodite, with legal rights as male or female depending on the characteristics that appeared most dominant.