Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 127–147 | Cite as

Intersex and Intimacy: Presenting Concerns About Dating and Intimate Relationships

  • Sarah E. FrankEmail author
Original Paper


The intersex label applies to individuals born with medically classified genitalia, gonads and/or chromosomes that are not solely male nor female. The intersex community must navigate the precarious world of dating and intimacy dominated by heterosexual cisgender bodies and schemas. How do intersex people approach dating and what anxieties do they experience when considering relationships with potential partners? The purpose of this research is to depathologize intersex narratives and study intersex people through the lens of social interaction in the context of intimacy. Data were collected from, a website for communication within the intersex community. From 36 original posts, content analysis identified the following themes: condition description, rejection sensitivity, sexuality and attraction, gender presentation, self-deprecation, genital appearance and function, disclosing the intersex condition, finding potential partners, and reproduction and family. Additionally, some posts were written by non-intersex individuals seeking relationship advice. The present research expands on dating anxiety research by identifying the specific set of dating anxieties experienced by intersex persons when approaching intimate relationships.


Intersex Intimacy Dating Relationships Internet 



The Institutional Review Board of Loyola University Chicago approved the application for the project in April 2014. Their letter stated: On Friday, April 18, 2014 the Loyola University Chicago Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviewed and approved your Initial application for the project titled “Intersex and Intimacy: The intersex experience in intimate relationships.” This project was originally researched and written as a capstone project at Loyola University Chicago under the supervision of Dr. Marilyn Krogh. I re-coded the data and employed the help of a secondary coder 2 years later at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The paper was subsequently reconstructed and edited with advice and guidance from Dr. John DeLamater.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There are no financial conflicts of interest regarding this paper.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

In addition, the IRB determined that documented consent is not required for all participants. The IRB approved the request for a waiver of informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of Wisconsin – MadisonMadisonUSA

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