Changing the nomenclature/taxonomy for intersex: A scientific and clinical rationale

Alice D. Dreger*, Cheryl Chase, Aron Sousa, Philip A. Gruppuso, Joel E Frader

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


We explain here why the standard division of many intersex types into true hermaphroditism, male pseudohermaphroditism, and female pseudohermaphroditism is scientifically specious and clinically problematic. First we provide the history of this tripartite taxonomy and note how the taxonomy predates and largely ignores the modern sciences of genetics and endocrinology. We then note the numerous ways that the existing taxonomy confuses and sometimes harms clinicians, researchers, patients, and parents. Finally, we make six specific suggestions regarding what a replacement taxonomy and nomenclature for intersex should do and not do, and we call for the abandonment of all terms based on the root "hermaphrodite".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-733
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Ambiguous genitalia
  • Disorders of sexual differentiation
  • Hermaphrodite
  • Hermaphroditism
  • Intersex
  • Nomenclature
  • Pseudohermaphroditism
  • Taxonomy
  • True hermaphroditism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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