From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A hermaphrodite is an organism that possesses both male and female sex organs during its life. In many species, hermaphroditism is a common part of the life-cycle, particularly in some asexual animals and some plants. Hermaphroditism is sometimes considered sexual reproduction, not asexual reproduction. Generally, hermaphroditism occurs in the invertebrates, although it occurs in a fair number of fish, and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates. On very rare occasions, such a hermaphrodite can even impregnate itself, but this will result in complications, such as the offspring having identical DNA to its parent. The term is derived from Hermaphroditos, the mythical son of Hermes and Aphrodite, possessing both male and female qualities.
Historically the term hermaphrodite has also been used to describe ambiguous genitalia and gonadal mosaicism in individuals of unisexual species, especially human beings. The broader term intersex is often used and is preferred by many such individuals and medical professionals. However, some of these people do not like the connotations and misunderstanding of the word "intersexed" and thus prefer to use hermaphrodite instead (Chase, 1998).