Overview of Androgyny

Androgyny is defined as having both male and female characteristics and traits. The term "androgyny" comes the Greek words andros, which means man, and gyno or gyne, which means woman. A person who is androgynous does not fit into typical masculine or feminine roles that are defined by society and may have an ambiguous or unclear sexual identity.

An androgynous person is sometimes referred to as an androgyne, a hermaphrodite, or a psuedohermaphrodite. The term hermaphrodite comes from the mythological offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite. In mythology, Hermaphroditos was both male and female. The term hermaphrodite is misleading because it is not physically possible for an individual to be fully male and fully female.

There are several different types of androgyny. Intersex is a term used to describe a person who has physical (physiological) sex characteristics that are not clearly male or clearly female. Intersexuality not the same as behavioral or psychological androgyny.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 05 Dec 2008

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015