We live in a time in which new moral issues arise on almost a daily basis. There is a variety of causes of these new issues, and some are real and some are not. We try very hard in this journal to inform our readers in a factual and logical way about what is real and what is not real. Issues like stem cells, cloning, euthanasia, abortion, and homosexuality are also presented in the media--but not always in an accurate way. One of the recent subjects on a variety of media programs is the subject of hermaphrodites. The media would tell us that massive numbers of babies are being born that have both male and female organs, and that doctors and parents make a decision about which organs should be removed and which should be retained. The idea is that many times the decisions made by these parents and doctors is wrong, and the individual has a terrible time in life because of these wrong decisions. There have been several programs in recent months that attempted to tie hermaphrodites to homosexuality.

Webster's Dictionary defines hermaphrodites as "people who have characteristics of both sexes present or apparently present." It is difficult to get any meaningful figures on how prevalent these conditions are, because medical records are usually not public and sometimes in the past a surgical change on a baby might not even be recorded. Hermaphrodites have become a football in politics and various rights groups campaigns. We would like to share some information about hermaphrodites with you, and while we do not have all the answers to this or any medical condition like it, we do feel that what the public is being told is not accurate or particularly useful.

The number of people that actually have both ovaries and testes is microscopic. What has happened is that some cases have been called hermaphrodites where the multiple organs are not even present. A boy with unusually large mammary glands is not a hermaphrodite. Someone who has a hormone imbalance is not a hermaphrodite. Medical records show that the incident rate of hermaphroditism is in the range of one in 10,000, and while that number may be low because of unreported cases it may also be high because of what is apparently a hermaphrodite characteristic in the judgment of the local doctor, but in reality is not. Scientists studying and working with hermaphrodites agree it is a very rare characteristic.

Pollution is a major issue in our world today. Chemicals that have been added to our foods, to our water, to our drinks, and to our medical treatments frequently have enormous negative affects on our offspring. The use of hormones in agriculture and animal husbandry is now coming under attack by people studying diseases and problems like hermaphrodite characteristics. Every report we have seen that discusses these issues points out that the cases of hermaphrodite characteristics is growing, and environmental issues are involved. It is also important to note that recreational drug use is a part of this picture as well. These are not natural causes. The hermaphrodite is not a normal part of the natural world, and man-made influences are undoubtedly a major part of what is happening in this area of study.

Research studies nearly universally report enormous health issues and reduced life spans for hermaphrodites. Many body processes are related to hormones and imbalances in these hormones. Any woman who has had to deal with PMS can testify to how dramatic these chemical changes can be; and when it is due to external chemical influences, the problem can be a very severe one. Because of the negative health that hermaphrodites have, they do not pass on their problem to their offspring if they have children, and are not contributors to the issue of homosexuality. Their condition is selected out of the population rather quickly, and they do not have an effect on things like homosexuality.

Those struggling with these health problems should not be used as pawns in the social issue debates of our day. We need to help them find medical and spiritual answers to their condition, and support them as they strive to find a place they can work within the Church and within society that brings them peace, love, joy, and acceptance.

--John N. Clayton

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