In terms of I…

Written for International Intersex Awareness Day

By Sam Ndlovu

Is it genuine interest, or intrigue or just intrusion
When it comes to intersex, many think it’s an illusion
many wonder, what’s my sex? Tell me where lies the confusion
Just embrace my uniqueness, put an end to my exclusion

I symbolize diversity and all life’s variation
I signify such beauty that u turn to complication
I’m infinite existence I’m incredibly complex
I’m intricately intimate, of course I’m intersex

I’m genuine inclusion, I’m an endless possibility
Although I seem ambiguous and mostly viewed suspiciously
I’m just a true embodiment of life’s interpretation
Of unity and oneness and of true interrelation

And though you may interrogate or Isolate or bully
I choose to rise above your fears, though I’m ignored unduly
I’m not a this, I’m not a that, I am this person fully
And that is all you need to know to get to know me truly

International Intersex Awareness Day

For immediate release

Transgender and Intersex Africa supports the International Intersex Awareness Day on the 26th of October. On this day in 1996 intersex activists carrying the sign “Hermaphrodites with attitude” and allies from Transsexual Menace held the first public intersex demonstration in Boston, USA.

TIA believes that this day is a great opportunity to break the silence and stop the ignorance about the existence of the intersex community in South Africa. It is also an opportune time to highlight the challenges and struggle that intersex individuals face in our country, such as non-consensual and unnecessary genital mutilation of intersex babies. Hundreds of intersex infants continue to be subjected to inhumane “corrective surgeries” in order to align them to stereotypical norms of sex and gender. Many intersex people continue to live in silence and isolation as a result of the prejudice and discrimination they face from society. As a result TIA aims to increase access to medical care and legal services for intersex people.

Transgender and Intersex Africa remains committed to its mission to advocate and lobby for Intersex human rights. We remain committed to empowering intersex individuals and creating safe spaces where they can share experiences and knowledge.

“Intersex people should be celebrated as part of the diverse and variant human phenomenon, intersex individuals should not be forced to undergo life impacting medical procedures without their consent and the proper information.” says Nthabiseng Mokoena, Advocacy Coordinator at TIA

“The medical pathological approach to intersex is still a big concern; intersex is not a disorder and should not be seen as one” says Tebogo Nkoana, Director at TIA

“My sex, my gender, my body…. MY DECISIONS’ – TIA

For more information:
Nthabiseng Mokoena
Advocacy Coordinator
Tel: +2778 0210363

Tebogo Nkoana
Tel: +2773 432 4499

Activity Update

* 2-5 October: We were attending a Capacity Development Trajectory programme in Namibia.
*6 October : We had an information stall/desk at Johannesburg Pride in order to bring visibility of the Transgender and Intersex community and offer medical and legal advice to trans and intersex individuals.
* 8-11 October : We were finalising projects and activity plans for the remainder of the year and the coming year, watch this space, great things are going to be happening!
* 11 October : In the spirit of solidarity, our Advocacy coordinator accompanied Nadzeya Husakouskaya to the Ukranian Embassy in Pretoria, in order to submit a letter stating activists’ disapproval at the prohibition of proganda of homosexuality bill in Ukraine.
* 12 October: Transgender and Intersex Africa had a visit from Flavian Rhode from Positive Vibes, one of the managers and organisers of the Southern African LGBTI capacity development programme( Twafika). We met to discuss the organisation’s capacity development plans and how to make the organisation better for you.
*13-15 October: we are busy with fundraising, media interviews and support group activation.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital

For immediate release

Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) is a black trans* and intersex organisation from South Africa focusing on black trans* and intersex issues in black townships and rural areas. We lobby and advocate for transgender and intersex human rights. TIA strives to promote tolerance, inclusion and recognition of trans* and intersex human rights.

For over a decade Steve Biko Academic Hospital has been one of the medical institutions in South Africa that provides gender reassignment therapy. However, the trans* community still experiences difficulties in accessing the hospital’s services. Many underprivileged patients have complained of unsatisfactory treatment from the hospital.

Their complaints include:
• Poor health service delivery.
• The hospital follows outdated standards of care and there are no clear medical guidelines for trans* patients.
• Denying trans* patients access to medical care by referring them to an expensive private psychiatrist for mental evaluation and diagnosis before they can be accepted as the hospital’s patients.
• Using unfair criteria to determine which trans* patient gets access to their services i.e. the “passing” get better treatment than those who do not pass according to stereotypical gender binaries. The hospital also prioritises working class in comparison to the unemployed trans* patients.
• The hospital does not recognize the importance of dispensing hormonal treatment for trans* individuals regardless of their financial background.
• The hospital does not give patients the opportunity to express themselves in their mother tongue

TIA’s arguments:

• It is unfair for a public hospital to refer underprivileged patients to a private doctor before they can be assisted by the hospital.
• Every hospital should have clear and accessible guidelines on how to deal with specific patients.
• Denying patients the opportunity to express themselves in their mother tongue impacts on the outcome and decision taken during evaluations.
• We are disappointed that Steve Biko Academic Hospital does not recognize the value and contribution of other public health practitioners by refusing referral letters from respected professionals.
• Steve Biko Academic Hospital should align their standards of care with other trans* friendly hospitals in the country such as Groote Schuure in Cape Town which has been the only hospital in South Africa that tries its best to provide and improve trans* community health care.
• A public/ Government hospital cannot prioritise patients based on employment. It is not only unconstitutional, but also further marginalises/ distances trans* people from access to services. Due to other socio-economic factors, trans* people are already the most marginalised groups, and early school drop-outs, ID book situation, and many other factors lead to unemployment for trans* people.

“ I feel like they do not make any efforts to assist me. They do not know where I come from and how it feels like to live as a trans person. Their system failed me”-says Catrecia from Mamelodi, who has been a patient at Steve Biko for 5 years without any success.

“Steve Biko Hospital is very poor towards trans people. I feel like they are undermining us by telling us that we are not in any crisis and can continue to live just fine without gender reassignment surgery”-says Revelation, outreach officer at TIA who was a patient at Steve Biko Hospital for 2 years without any success.

“ The psychiatrist used is not allowing appropriate health care for all groups, there should be staff sensitization at the hospital” –says Leighann van der Merwe, coordinator, SHE

“It is shocking that a government health institution clearly stigmatises and discriminates transgender people, they measure and decide transgender people’s access to care by different standards than they do the general population” – says Sibusiso Kheswa, Advocacy Coordinator, Gender DynamiX

We urge Steve Biko Hospital to reconsider their approach and methods of working with transgender patients. Nature chooses who will be transgender, individuals do not choose this. Transgender health care is not a privilege but a human right- says Tebogo Nkoana, the founder and executive director at TIA.

TIA is meeting with the hospital’s panel responsible for trans* patients on the 26 September 2012. We are going to encourage change and the importance of fair medical services for the trans* community.

For more information contact:
Nthabiseng Mokoena
Advocacy coordinator

Tebogo Nkoana
Executive director