We strongly suggest being open and honest about what is going on. Even if you do not intend to, lying or keeping back information will create a sense of shame and secrecy that can end up making you feel alone, angry, or very sad. Though it can be hard to talk with families and friends about a child’s sex development, being honest helps you learn not to be ashamed—because you have nothing to be ashamed of—and it also allows others to give you the love and support you need. Isolating yourself at this time will probably make you feel stressed and lonely. Talking about it will help you feel connected with others.
In the beginning, you may feel very emotional when you talk about your child’s DSD. The medical team you are working with should give you many opportunities to talk about these feelings and to come up with a way to share information with family and friends. If they are not doing this, try to ask them for help.
Parents are usually proud of their children and do not mean to act as if they are ashamed or embarrassed by them. But when they find themselves not able to openly or honestly talk about their children, over time it can make the feelings of shame grow bigger. More importantly, children with DSDs also feel more and more shame if you don’t talk about it honestly. We understand that learning these skills will take time and support.
So here is what you can tell people at the start: “Our baby was born with a kind of variation that happens more often than you hear about. Our doctors are doing a series of tests to figure out whether our baby is probably going to feel more like a boy or a girl. We expect to have more information from them within [say how long], and then we’ll send out a birth announcement with the gender and the name we have chosen. Of course, as is true with any child, the various tests the doctors are doing are not going to tell us for sure who our baby will turn out to be. We’re going to go on that journey together. We appreciate your love and support and we’re looking forward to introducing you to our little one in person soon.”
It also helps to let your friends and family know whether your baby is healthy or whether there are some health concerns. If there are health concerns, tell them what you know about that. Finally, take some pictures of your baby’s face and share those pictures with others!
We think you’ll find what other parents have experienced, that family and friends usually have many questions and lots of advice. If your own parents (the grandparents) are feeling confused and stressed, you can ask someone on the medical team to talk with them. Also, you might find it helpful to talk with another parent of a child with a DSD or a peer counselor. We know that this isn’t an easy road to walk down at first, but you’re not the first to walk down this road, and you won’t walk it alone if you reach out for help.