Although it might feel like making decisions and taking action early on will be better for your child in the long run, the experience of many intersex people shows that the opposite is true. Waiting until your child is at an age that they can make their own decisions or be involved in the process is more likely to have a positive outcome. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children also have a right to this (CRC 1989, article 12). Children start to express their own opinions around two years of age, so you should involve your child in decision making as soon as they are able.
Trust your child – it is more capable of responsible decision-making than you might think.
Make sure that doctors do not overwhelm you or your child. This might simply happen due to all the medical terminology they use, the sense that they are the experts in this situation, or the feeling that you don’t know enough information. Where possible, bring a friend or family member with you that you and your child trust to help you discuss the possibilities and reach decisions.1
- Discuss all the possibilities with your child, leaving surgery as the last option (unless there are immediate health implications).
- Share all the information about risks and possible outcomes in an age appropriate manner.
- Give them access to their own medical records/history. They have a right to know.
- Answer all their questions. Research the subject and empower them to do their own research too. Teach yourself and them how to do good research – how to identify valid information and avoid being misinformed.
- Reassure your child that they’re the one who knows best how they feel about their lives and their bodies, but that there is help and support available if they need it.
- Involve your child in conversations with the doctors. Encourage them to ask questions and to critically review advice and information.
- Empower your child to be in control of any medical examinations or interventions, and tell them that their consent is needed at every stage. Research and teach them their patient rights.
- When it comes to medical examinations, make sure the medical professionals involved know that your child is intersex.
- Unless your child is older and requests otherwise, you should always be present during all medical examinations your child may need.
- Give your child time and space to prepare for and deal with things like medical examinations that can be daunting.