The birth of an intersex child: “Perfection comes in all kinds of packages”

Baby M's story, photograph by Minna Burgess

Baby M (detail). Photograph shared with kind permission from Minna Burgess.

A Queensland mother talks with Minna Burgess, a Queensland baby and maternity photographer, and journalist Sabrina Rogers-Anderson in two articles about the birth of her son.

Minna Burgess shared a beautiful story on her blog following the birth of baby M to Jane and Stuart. Initially fearful, Jane talks about her fears and the difficulties of not knowing enough about their child, their fourth.

The most difficult part was not being able to get any answers, we had all these bad possibilities hanging around and I was just so disconnected to my baby because I didn’t even know if he or she would make it to birth.

Even before M was born with atypical sex characteristics, the parents found themselves with unfamiliar challenges. They later had to make a decision about how to raise their child, and they’re open to the possibility of that changing.

Being intersex is not a burden, but stigma and lack of information can make it seem so. Diversity is natural, and all sorts of people live happily with different kinds of bodies. It’s important that parents know that intersex children can live happy, fulfilling lives.

Jane describes their journey, and the lack of support they experienced; something we aim to change, as does Jane. The parents’ joy is also evident. Minna says:

Looking at the sparkle in M’s eyes and those delicious baby cheeks it is very clear that perfection comes in all kinds of packages. I am so honored to share his story with you. I hope he is met with an open heart and mind wherever he goes. In Jane’s words:

“We hope to give M enough support and guidance that he will always feel comfortable and never ashamed of himself. My biggest wish for M is happiness and acceptance. I just want him to be happy.”

And so say we all.

In a sense, this is all so ordinary: this is all that so many parents want of their children. How wonderful.

Later in August, Sabrina Rogers-Anderson provides more detail on the anonymised story, quoting the mother:

Doctors would be happy to remove the female parts, but because we’re not sure that he’s a boy, we don’t feel like we can take away his girl parts in case he wants them later.”

While there’s still a lot of stigma attached to intersex people, the Thompsons hope that will soon change.

“By the time Charlie is a teenager, hopefully people will be a lot more open-minded about it,” says Laura. “We’ll support him no matter what he chooses. For us, it isn’t about making him normal because we don’t see anything wrong with him.”

Thank you to Minna Burgess and Sabrina Rogers-Anderson, and to the anonymised parents, for sharing this story. We wish you all the very best.

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