Titel-illustratie bestaande uit een lijntekening en tekst. De lijntekening stelt een kind voor dat naar een teddybeer kijkt. De tekst luidt steun je intersekse kind, een gids voor ouders. Onderaan de illustratie zijn de logos van de vier betrokken organisaties weergegeven: IGLYO, OII Europe, EPA, en NNID.

Image: iStockPhoto SurfUpVector

Advice for parents

Finding out that your child is intersex may come as a surprise to you. You may feel and think many things as a result of the news.

You might simply feel utter joy that your child is born or you may start worrying about your child’s or adolescent’s wellbeing. You may be told that your child is not healthy. As with male and female children and adolescents, intersex children and adolescents may face health issues, but this does not define who they are. They are, first of all, your child, and they will need your love and attention, will laugh with you and make you angry sometimes. When they grow older, they will make their own choices in life as who they are: another proof of nature’s diversity.

Here are some tips to help process the information and prepare you to provide the support your child, like any other child, will need.

Drie wandelende mensen; het zijn twee volwassen vrouwen met tussen hen in een meisje dat hand in hand met de vrouwen huppelt. Lijntekening gemaakt in een enkele pennenstreek.

There is nothing wrong with your child

For the vast majority of intersex people, there is nothing physically wrong with them and there is no need for any medical interventions. If your doctor tells you that medical treatment is necessary, ask about the health implications and risks both of undergoing treatment and of doing nothing. Then take the time to make an informed decision. Always get a second opinion and carry out your own research.

It’s not your fault

When parents find out there is something different about their child, one of the first thoughts is often, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ or ‘Could I have prevented this?’. Having an intersex child is something completely natural and is not the result of anything you did. There is nothing to feel ashamed of.

It’s okay to feel confused or upset

When we have certain expectations, especially around something as major as having a baby, it is understandable that we experience many different emotions when something unexpected happens. Finding out your child is intersex might make you feel scared, angry, upset, worried, ashamed, guilty or a mixture of some or all of the above. Many of these feelings are caused by the unknown and will lessen as you learn more about intersex variations and talk to others about it. Try not to suppress feelings, even if they are challenging. Find people you can talk to and can provide you with the support you need. Ask the hospital or your medical practitioner about the options to get mental support. Reach out to organizations to get more information and advice. Speak with family or friends, if possible. You need to look after yourself, otherwise you won’t be in a good position to look after your child.

You are not alone

It’s easy to feel like you are the only person in the world going through this and that no-one else will understand. The truth is there is an increasing number of intersex organizations that can provide information, refer you to support groups (both real world and online), connect you with intersex peer councillors and connect you with other parents of intersex children. Talking to other people who have intersex children can provide you with information, advice and support. Talking to others is an important step in ‘coming out’ as an intersex parent. Don’t feel it’s a secret you need to keep, as this is not good for you or your child. If you live in a country where you feel coming out would not be safe for you and your child, we encourage you to connect with OII Europe, who can help you find to find parents who are in a similar situation with whom you can talk.

You don’t need to know all the answers

Over time, as you tell your child and others around you, you will be faced with a lot of questions. This can be overwhelming and create a sense of having to become an expert in the subject overnight. It’s okay not to know all the answers straight away. At the same time, don’t shy away from the subject. The more you learn about it and discuss it with others, the better prepared you’ll be to support your child when they start asking questions too.


Ouder leest voor aan twee kinderen die links en rechts van de ouder zitten. Lijntekening gemaakt in een enkele pennenstreek.