Paul Byrne Moroney on what it means to be Intersex/XXY

From the age of eight, intersex male Paul Byrne-Moroney realised his body was different from that of his brothers and other boys his age.

For years, a cruel nightmare cursed his sleep — an intruder would enter his bedroom, pull back the blankets, look at his body and laugh.

Now 54, Paul tells Independent Australia of the distress he endured, living as a stranger to himself:

Swimming with the family was hard. I would leave the pool and change, ahead of my father and brothers. I dreaded them seeing me naked. I dreaded anyone seeing me naked. I avoided sport, because it meant undressing in locker rooms.


As a teenager, the stress of comparing myself to the masculine boys around me was excruciating. It only reinforced my difference — frankly, my ‘deformity’, as I saw it.

Growing up, because of his pear-shaped build and underdeveloped testicles, Paul kept his body hidden. He internalised his painful secret until days became months and then decades had passed. He was almost 30 before he found the courage to ask a doctor why he looked and felt so different.

Paul learned that he had an extra “X” sex chromosome — one of at least forty known intersex variations. It renders him infertile. He will need testosterone replacement therapy for the rest of his life.

Just six years ago, Paul heard the word “intersex” for the first time. Since then, he has become a national intersex advocate. Most importantly, he has found a community of people who accept, support and understand him.

Paul is a “heterosexual male intersex person”.

As a public speaker, he emphasises the words “heterosexual” and “male”, because intersex is incorrectly but commonly linked with other sexualities and nonbinary gender identities.

While many of us recognise the “I” in LGBTI+, it seems fewer know what being intersex actually means. It is one of several reasons why intersex people feel misunderstood. Simply put — intersex is not an additional sexual or gender identity. Intersex people are as sexually and gender diverse as the broader community.

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