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What should parents do if their child is born intersex?

Dr. Dreger says first it's important that they work with experienced doctors to come up with a gender assignment that considers the child's medical issues and does not require surgery unless it is medically necessary. Then parents should raise the child with that assigned gender. Then, parents of intersex children should seek out support groups, like the one that helped Katie and her family. "Being able to meet somebody else like you, another parent of a child who has intersex, is really lifesaving in a lot of ways," she says. "Work with the professionals, but you also recognize there's some stuff the professionals can't do for you that another human being can."

Dr. Dreger says that doctors who perform surgery on children born with intersex conditions are doing so out of "charitable feeling," thinking they will ease suffering. "They're doing it out of a really good place in terms of their attitude," she says. "The problem is that [unnecessary surgery] is not, I don't think, the best way to intervene."

"The doctors have good intentions, but they are speculating," Hida says. "I feel blessed. I would not be a quote-unquote regular woman if you paid me."

In general, we all can try to be more accepting of intersex individuals. "Many times in our society people get locked into wanting people to just be the way they are," Oprah says. "But I really do think that in order for our human species to be able to continue to evolve, that we have to be able to accept all people."

If you are a parent raising a child with an intersex condition or disorder of sex development, or if you an adult living with one of these conditions, learn more.

Get to know the author of Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides.
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FROM: Growing Up Intersex
Published on September 21, 2007

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