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Andre

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20071028
PostAbout Support groups

This is taken from an article in the OII. I thought it best to include it here, since GendersInX is a support group and is ever expanding to bring those little know conditions to the forefront.

The article can be found here : http://www.intersexualite.org/support_groups.html


Terms such as "abnormal", "disorder" and "dysfunction" reinforce negative stigmas that can contribute to negative sense of self. - Esther Morris Leidolf, http://www.mrkh.org/



Support groups are the best resource for information and emotional support. Patients usually find them on their own, or long after treatment. Some groups are offered in hospitals--gatherings that are organized by patients--and also on-line. Some groups are closely moderated while others are not. The common theme is that without each other we would be doomed to a life of ignorance, isolation and shame. These groups are where the experts are found. They are the survivors, the researchers, and provide the follow-up so desperately needed. Support groups offer patients and families a chance to hear from adults with real life experiences. This is what the survivors have taught us:

• People lose ownership of their bodies when they are subjected to treatment without options, knowledge or consent.

• Patients need emotional care before physical treatment.

• Squeezing an individual with an atypical anatomy into standardized categories can undermine identity and self esteem.

• Being lied to, or misinformed about one’s medical history can irrevocably destroy one’s ability to trust doctors and parents. It can compromise these relationships beyond repair.

• Children may find it difficult to discern sexual abuse from a uncomfortable examinations or painful genital treatments in a professional environment. The same may be true for parents who are instructed to dilate children after early vaginal surgeries as well.
• Medical examinations and procedures can be subjectively experienced as "sexual abuse." Patients with unusual presentations are often put on display as teaching tools for medical students, interns, and residents. Doctors need to feel as often as they touch.

• Daily reminders that one does not fit into social or medical standards are emotionally exhausting. When one is treated as a threat to the culture, the burden may feel overwhelming. Patients need help in carrying that burden.

• The need for surgical "correction" is often more important to other people than it is to the patient. A heightened focus on genital appearance or sexual function can overemphasize the importance they have in an individual’s life.

• Most people with intersex conditions have undergone more procedures by their teens than other people do in a lifetime. A history of pain or genital surgeries can lead patients to ignore important warning symptoms of other health related matters. Patients need support to pursue all their health needs.

• Sexual self worth can be damaged by professional interventions and opinions. A focus on "correction" can leave a patient feeling dysfunctional, abnormal, inadequate, too big or too small; or totally disinterested.

• Some patients are forced into a world of "little lies" to cover up their medical histories. As a result, they are denied access to emotional support and may feel cheated out of a sense of wellness. They may also struggle with the conflict of lying.

• Families are affected by the medical treatment of members with atypical development. Parents need support to decide how to care for their children and accept atypical anatomy. Children need support to decide what is best for them. Partners need support to help them deal with the way intersex treatments affect their relationships.

• It can be painful and difficult to "break in" and educate new physicians, especially when the patients medical histories are not been completely explained to them. Mental health clinicians must learn as much as they can about intersex conditions and treatment. Given the medical secrecy surrounding intersex, they may not be able to rely on their patients/clients for basic information.

• Coming out is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. I now have the support of friends, family, therapist, doctors, medical allies, church, college professors, boss and coworkers, and an entire community. Patients need support to determine when and where to come out; and how to make that feel safe. It took me thirty years do that on my own.

_________________
If you want to world to be a better place
Take a look at yourself
And make the Change
-Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson
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