Thesis

Intersexuality and decision making of Nigerian parents

The purpose of this research was to explore reasons why parents of an intersex child will make decisions such as giving consent for a sex reassignment. Cultural beliefs of parents from Nigeria who migrate to the United States were examined. The role of social workers and other mental health experts working with parents of children living with intersex conditions, and affected children was also explored. This qualitative research study, specifically a phenomenological design, used semi-structured in-depth interviews with thirteen participants who had immigrated to United States from Nigeria, and who were friends, acquaintances, and relatives of individual with intersex conditions. Participants described the taboo, and shame and stigma associated with the intersex condition in the Nigerian culture. Findings reflected the need for social workers to have advanced and on-going trainings to work with the Nigerian parent with an intersex child. Social workers should also form partnerships with intersex communities, and with the medical profession to challenge existing paradigms of practice around medical decisions and focus more on the long-term best interest of the child. Future recommendation is for a participatory action research that includes the Nigerian parents with an intersex child living here in the United States as co-researchers.

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