New Q&A Columns Beginning in the May 2009 Issue of the HEA Newsletter
“Ask Tiger” will focus on generic psychological, emotional, and relationship issues of interest to our community. It will be written by Howard “Tiger” Devore, Ph.D. Tiger is a psychotherapist and sex therapist with expertise in disorders of sexual development (DSDs), hypospadias and epispadias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Ask the Doctor” will answer generic medical questions and will be authored by William Kennedy, M.D., a leading pediatric urologist with expertise in hypospadias, epispadias, and related conditions. His surgical expertise is matched by his sensitivity to the questions, worries, and concerns of his patients and their parents.
Both men have presented at many HEA conferences and participated in the HEA Online Open House Chat last September. They are valued friends and members of HEA.
Questions will be selected from those submitted by March 31, 2009. Send questions to Q&A@HEAinfo.org. Please include your name and email address, so that you can be contacted if necessary. Your name and e-mail address will not be printed in the newsletter.
Here’s a sample:
By Tiger Devore
Q: My teenage son has an epispadias. He is 15 and popular and becoming quite handsome. He is shy around girls and I wonder if his epispadias is the reason. I want to talk to him about this but can't find the words. We are a pretty open family but I am sure you understand how sensitive this topic would be for any teen. Any suggestions?
A: Anyone with a genital difference is going to have that difference first and foremost in mind when considering intimate and sexual relationships. You don't have to guess why your son with epispadias is shy around girls. Talking about this is very emotional since shame, rejection, fear of loneliness, humiliation, and loss of privacy (the big secret his peers don't know about) are all at risk. Anyone who approaches your son will have to be talking a lot about all these fears before he will be able or willing to validate them as his own. As a parent, you have to be sensitive to realizing who your son is closest to and would be able to open up to about all this. It may take several attempts making it clear that you (or the trusted adult) is ready to be helpful, but it will often include the adult saying all the things the teen can't say first, since he is struggling with the words as much as you are. Telling him his story makes it easier to admit to it, and makes it clear that he isn’t alone with that understanding and that set of fears. Offering that the teen might be able to talk, at least online, to an adult through HEA who has been through similar issues (somebody like me to whom he won't have to explain all this!) may also be a great relief. Peer to peer can be very powerful, but only after a loving parent has made it clear that it’s safe to have those conversations.