Raising Rosie is a new book for parents of children born with variations of sex characteristics, written by Eric and Stephani Lohman, parents of a girl with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
When their daughter Rosie was born, Eric and Stephani Lohman found themselves thrust into a situation they were not prepared for. Born intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns.
Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. The book looks at how they spoke about the condition to friends and family, to Rosie’s teachers and caregivers, and shows how they plan on explaining it to Rosie when she is older. This uplifting and empowering story is a must read for all parents of intersex children.
Eric is a board member of interACT, a national intersex advocacy organisation in the US. He has a doctorate in Media Studies and is lecturer and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stephani Lohman is an infection prevention nurse, with degrees in chemistry, biology, and nursing. The book includes a foreword by Georgiann Davis PhD, a sociologist and researcher on intersex at the University of Nevada, and president of the board of interACT.
In Raising Rosie, the Lohmans discuss the birth of their girl, the ways their child’s body was framed by doctors, and the inability of their hospital’s multidisciplinary team to allow for discussion of alternative treatment paths other than surgeries which were not necessary for Rosie’s physical health. Here they explain the situation to CNN:
Rosie’s parents said a pediatric urologist presented them with two options only: They could reduce the size of Rosie’s clitoris and create a vaginal canal, or solely do the vaginal canal surgery.
He recommended that Rosie have both procedures done simultaneously at about 6 months old, and preferably not much later than that. The argument was that the younger Rosie was, the faster she would heal, and she wouldn’t have to experience looking physically different from other children.
After thorough research, Rosie’s parents knew that they didn’t want either procedure.
To their dismay, not having any surgery was never presented to them as a possibility, Eric said. And when he brought it up, the doctor said that was a choice he wouldn’t recommend, due to the risk that Rosie might eventually experience psychological trauma from not looking like other girls.
The rest of the staff stayed silent, Stephani said.
“It would have been nice to think that we had one ally in there, but we didn’t,” Stephani said.
This is an excellent book, and is highly recommended.
Emanuel, Daniella. 2019. ‘Raising an Intersex Child: “This Is Your Body. … There’s Nothing to Be Ashamed Of”’. CNN, April 15. https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/13/health/intersex-child-parenting-eprise/index.html.
Read more on intersex for parents on our Intersex for parents page.