South Africa: Intersex people urge government to ban genital mutilation

Three young intersex South Africans are going public with their stories to bring awareness to the plight of intersex infants and children receiving unnecessary operations to make their sex characteristics fit the binary of male or female.

“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive anatomy that doesn't fit typical definitions of female or male. Too young to give consent, these babies generally grow up to become adults who do not know the truth about what has happened to their bodies: what human rights organisations term intersex genital mutilation.

The consequences can be mental, physical and long-lasting. Now these activists are calling on government to ban intersex genital mutilation and to allow intersex people to grow up and decide for themselves if they would benefit from medical treatment, reports Health-e News’ AMY GREEN.

“So at the age of about 15 you’re supposed to have gotten your menstrual cycle. In my case that did not happen,” Crystal Hendricks said, pausing. The young woman from Cape Town is telling her story to a room filled with people including gender activists and government representatives in a Johannesburg conference room in December 2017.

She said that after visits to a hospital and numerous scans and tests, doctors gave Hendricks’ family unexpected news about their teenage daughter. “The message I got was that [the doctors said] ‘your daughter doesn’t have a uterus or fallopian tubes. She only has under-developed ovaries and they might be cancerous’.”

She was taken into surgery to remove the potentially cancerous ovaries and put on hormone treatment in the absence of oestrogen-producing reproductive organs. Read more via Daily Maverick