Chapter 3 HOW TO TALK WITH OTHERS

Max and Tamara Beck and family

INTRODUCTION

If you avoid talking about your family’s DSD experience, you will probably feel stressed and lonely. Talking about it will help you feel connected with others. And sometimes you’re going to find you have to talk about your child’s DSD, maybe because you are putting your child in daycare or you are visiting a new doctor with your child. In this chapter, we suggest ways that you can talk with others about your child’s DSD. These aren’t meant to be “scripts” that you memorize or read out loud. Rather, these are meant to be helpful ideas for when you feel at a loss for words.

Just like you, your child is probably going to want some privacy about her DSD. As she grows older, it is important for you to let her decide, as much as possible, about how much others will know. You can talk with her, for example, about whether she wants you to talk about her DSD with her teacher or her best friend’s parents. Remember that it is important to your child to feel in control of his or her body and personal history. So you will need to listen to and respect your child’s wishes when it comes to talking with others.

We have learned from parents and from adults with DSDs that, when you are talking with someone about your child’s DSD, honesty is the best policy for you and your child. Being honest signals to others (and to you and your child) that you are not ashamed—because you have nothing to be ashamed of—and it also allows others to provide you with the love and support you may need. Whenever you are telling another person about your child’s DSD, it helps to ask the other person, “Do you have any questions or worries that I might be able to answer?” It can also help to follow-up the next day by asking the person again, “Did you have any more questions or concerns about what we talked about yesterday?” Remember that shame often comes from fear and ignorance. Clearing up confusion for others helps them not be afraid or ignorant.

Cheryl Chase