Practical Assistance

Resolution of ethical conflicts

Ethics as an area of practical philosophy deals with the framework conditions of moral and responsible human action. Ethical dilemmas or conflicts are situations for which, at first glance, there seems to be no clear way out or clear solutions.

Equivalent values or legal interests often stand in opposition to each other, e.g. the right to medical care as opposed to the right to bodily integrity. There is broad agreement here on the recognition of four universally valid values which must be taken into account in such difficult decision-making processes. These are:

  1. justice
  2. autonomy/self-determination
  3. beneficence/doing good
  4. non-malificence/doing no harm.

(cf. Beauchamp & Childress, 2009, cited in Woellert, 2012).

For further reading: Katharina Woellert (2012). “Umgang mit Intergeschlechtlichkeit. Ethische Dilemmata und Methoden ethischer Reflexion” [Dealing with intersex: Ethical dilemmas and methods of ethical reflection]. In K. Schweizer & H. Richter-Appelt (eds). Intersexualität kontrovers. Grundlagen, Positionen und Erfahrungen. Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag.


There are various forms of counselling. A distinction can be made between psychosocial, medical and legal counselling services (offered either at psychosocial institutions, such as municipal or church family counselling centres, or pro familia, outpatient departments or medical departments) and so-called peer-to-peer counselling, i.e. counselling from other lived-experience experts (from peers for peers in similar circumstances), which is becoming increasingly important.

A counselling study by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs (BMFSFJ 2015) provides an insight into the current situation for intersex counselling in Germany. It shows that intersex-specific, independent services and advisory structures are rare. The following organisations offer counselling in Germany:


The help which people in similar life situations can give each other on the basis of their experience is an important, now indispensable pillar in the counselling landscape. Due to the social invisibility of intersex and variations in physical sex characteristics, mutual exchange and support from others in similar circumstances is for many an important source of strength.

  • The association Intersexuelle Menschen e.V. can provide you with contacts to regional self-help groups. In addition, there are initiatives set up by various patient groups, e.g. the AGS Initiative.
  • Information about parent groups can be found on this information sheet: HOOU-Beitrag SHG Elternperspektiven 2017
  • What should I do if there is no local support group? – Regional or municipal self-help coordination offices often support the establishment of new self-help groups upon request (see KIBIS).

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  • Documents from the specialist conference held by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency 2015
  • Survey result report of the short-term survey on the need for intersex counselling (Schweizer, Lampalzer, Handford, Briken, 2015)