Thanks to Simone-Lisa and reporter Carrol Baker for this important story on parenting in Kidspot. Simone-Lisa is the Tasmanian rep and parent rep for Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA). Simone-Lisa talks about raising her son James, and the advice she was given at his birth and puberty. She decided to give James autonomy over his own body, and describes the benefits for him – and their relationship.
Intersex kids are just like any other kid – some need more support than others, but unless it’s life-threatening, surgery isn’t required. I firmly believe if it’s just for social-cultural reasons, you should wait until the child is old enough to make up their own mind.
I’ve talked to a lot of parents who have an intersex child, and doctors force them into non-consensual surgery, without having all the knowledge they need to make an informed decision. Some have similar intersex variations to my son. I chose a different path for my child, and that reality means my child doesn’t have internalised stigma. He is who he is and I love him.
Possible future stigma is often raised as a rationale for surgery – but there is no evidence that surgery prevents stigma, and nor does surgery eliminate the possibility of future medical interventions. We know that medical advice still favours unnecessary cosmetic interventions, and other interventions that might be framed as ‘functional’, but that are really based in gender stereotypes and social or cultural norms.
We know that information provision is limited and it can be difficult to disentangle these issues, and both IPSA and IHRA are here for people with intersex variations, and for parents, irrespective of the decisions that you might have made in the past.