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Bay Area’s first DSD parent support group meets this week

This week marks the first meeting of a new support group for Bay Area parents of intersex, or disorder of sex differentiation (DSD), children. An article published over the weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the prevalence of the condition and a shift in treatment strategies:

Such disorders, which may occur in as many as 1 in 3,000 births, include a wide variety of conditions, from something that's not obvious at birth, like Swyer syndrome, to babies born with ambiguous genitalia who cannot immediately be labeled male or female.


Entire medical teams have been developed around these disorders; both UCSF and Stanford have started programs in the past five years to provide more nuanced care to newborns and older children. Often child psychiatrists are brought in soon after birth to discuss with parents some of the issues around performing genital surgery on babies and how to deal with gender issues that will likely arise as kids grow up.

"The idea that psychosocial care would be important, the idea that we would not automatically do genital surgery for every kid, the idea that you may not get gender assignment right, and that's OK - all of this is understood now," said Katrina Karkazis, a senior research scholar at Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics, who is helping build the DSD program there.

A recent story in Stanford Medicine explores the ethics of using surgery to "fix" the sex of children born with ambiguous gender and includes a discussion of the complex nature of gender and sexual identify.

Previously: Gender ambiguity gets attention

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