10 Ways to Serve Intersex (DSD) Congregants

  1. Learn the basics and language of intersex or DSD conditions. Research some of the medical conditions that fall under the DSD umbrella. The Intersex Society of North America is a great first resource. Be sure the clergyperson has ability to provide support to a family with a baby born with DSDs, including referrals.
  2. Use inclusive language whenever possible. For instance, “people of all sexes and genders” is a better reference to humankind than “men and women.”
  3. Develop a referral relationship with a non-“intersexphobic” doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinic in your area or region of the country.  A list of quality care indicators for DSDs can be found here.
  4. Hold an adult education workshop on intersex conditions and experiences. Invite a local intersex activist or expert physician to speak to the group. The Intersex Society of North America, TransFaith Online, and the Intersex Initiative all have resources that can be used.
  5. Designate at least one restroom in your building as gender-neutral. Change the sign from “Men” or “Women” to read “All Genders,” “Unisex” or “Family.”
  6. Explore the relationship between your sacred texts and the intersex experience. For instance, Biblical references to the eunuch (Deuteronomy 23:1, Isaiah 56:4-5, Wisdom 3:14, Matthew 19:10-12, Acts 8:26-40) may have a particular resonance for intersex, as well as transgender, Jews and Christians.
  7. Educate religious education volunteers on the possibility of intersex children in class. Do not divide groups by “boys” and “girls” but rather by “red shirts, blue shirts,” “sneakers or shoes,” counting off or some other method.
  8. Host an intersex film and discussion night. Recent feature films such as “XXY,” can set the stage for dialogue around the intersex experience.
  9. If your congregation hosts or produces The Vagina Monologues, consider including “The Missing Vagina Monologue.”
  10. Don’t wait for an intersex person to walk in the door. Begin now to learn about intersex issues and the pastoral needs of intersex people, and lead your congregants to do the same. Create a space where intersex persons feel welcome and invited.

 

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