Intersex Bodily Autonomy & Self Determination Honored in S. African Case!

“Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said government recognises that being intersex is a sexual characteristic, and not a medical condition. Speaking at a conference when SA joined the global fight to stop genital surgery on intersex babies said she believed the practice to be harmful and should therefore be stopped.”

This fantastic news, reported yesterday in Health-E News, The South African Health News, is in regards to an eight year old intersex child whose right to bodily autonomy and self determination is being honored by allowing him choose his own gender. Registered female and raised as a girl, when he began identifying as a boy at the age of eight, his “mother said she allowed her child to change the gender he identified with and dress how he wanted – even though he is registered as a female on his birth certificate.”

This is particularly commendable as being intersex is highly stigmatized in South Africa. As the mother explained:
“…according to culture, it is a curse to have a child of this nature. But there was nothing I could do about it. My husband was the one who decided that we should leave our child the way he is, because it was God’s way of doing things,” said the 38-year-old mother, whose husband died two years ago.

As reported in the piece, the Organization Intersex International (OII), our parent organization, opposes harmful, medically unnecessary “normalizing” medical practices performed on intersex minors, and we are happy to hear that while spiritual beliefs saved this intersex child from undergoing them, South African government officials, as quoted at the beginning of this article, also support a ban on these practices. We note that all intersex advocates and several human rights bodies such as the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International also oppose nonconsensual “normalizing” practices on intersex minors, which were banned in Malta in 2015, and which the Chilean government urged doctors to stop performing in 2016.

Sithembiso Mncube, spokesperson for the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Civil Society Forum’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex (LGBTI) Movement, said, “I see the child is already labeled as a ‘he’. My advice to the family would be to wait and see what happens when the child reaches adolescence – maybe 14 or 15 years old – before making a final decision. And even then, I don’t recommend genital surgery because sometimes the results are not pleasing and many times it is not a success.”

We commend the child’s mother, Minister Dlamini, and the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Civil Society Forum’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex (LGBTI) Movement for supporting intersex people’s equality and right to bodily autonomy and self determination. Our founder and OII Chairperson Hida Viloria, an intact intersex person, has long argued that intersex children can be happy, healthy, loved and accepted children and adults if left as is to make our own decisions, and we celebrate that the child seems to be experiencing just this. As his friends told Health-E News:

“We love him and we enjoy playing with him, and we cannot discriminate against him.”

Read full article here.

#Intersex #IntersexRights #IntersexEquality #LoveWins #SelfDetermination #LGBTI