A systematic review of the health and healthcare inequalities for people with intersex variance

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Extensive research documents the health inequalities LGBTI people experience, however far less is known for people with intersex variation. This paper presents a review of intersex health and healthcare inequalities by evaluating research published from 2012 to 2019. In total 9181 citations were identified with 74 records screened of which 16 were included. A synthesis of results spans nine quantitative, five qualitative and two narrative reviews. Literature was searched in Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane, PsychINFO and CINAHL. People with intersex variance experience a higher incidence of anxiety, depression and psychological distress compared to the general population linked to stigma and discrimination. Progressive healthcare treatment, including support to question normative binaries of sex and gender, aids understand of somatic intersex variance and non-binary gender identity, especially when invasive treatment options are avoided or delayed until individuals are able to self-identify or provide consent to treatment. Findings support rethinking sex and gender to reflect greater diversity within a more nuanced sex-gender spectrum, although gaps in research remain around the general health profile and the healthcare experiences of people with intersex variance. More large-scale research is needed, co-produced with peers who have lived experience of intersex variation to ensure policy, education and healthcare advances with greater inclusivity and ethical accountability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6533
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


  • intersex
  • health inequalities
  • healthcare
  • ethical accountability
  • sex
  • gender
  • Ethical accountability
  • Health inequalities
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Intersex
  • Healthcare


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