Sally Gross: Intersex and the law

Sally Gross, apartheid-era member of the African National Congress and founder of Intersex South Africa writes in that country’s Mail & Guardian newspaper about legislation to protect intersex people from discrimination. It’s the first such legislation anywhere in the world:

Before 2006, when an obscure judicial amendment—comprising two simple definitions—was signed into law, being found to be intersexed opened up all one’s rights to challenge. But the promulgation of the Judicial Matters Amendment Act of 2005 changed this technically…

The Act begins with a schedule of definitions. Adding two definitions—“‘sex’ includes intersex” and “‘intersex’ means a congenital sexual differentiation which is atypical, to whatever degree”—would make intersex part of the meaning of “sex” in the Equality Clause…

Theoretically, this Act guaranteed protection to the intersexed. Two statutory definitions turned the technical trick. The trouble was that the amendment entered the statute book by stealth: its existence and far-reaching implications have evaded attention until now in a context in which the invisibility of the intersexed, bar a handful of notable exceptions, testifies to an entrenched culture of shame, secrecy and stigmatisation.

Sally Gross: Intersex and the law.

In the meantime, the ANC Youth League also write on the case. The ANC YL is correct in this article – there is no such thing as a human hermaphrodite. There are such people as intersex people, and Sally Gross of Intersex South Africa has recently written an article on intersex-inclusive legislation in South Africa.

The ANC YL comments on the misuse of the word 'hermaphrodite.'

More information

Sally Gross on intersex and the law in South Africa
ANC Youth League on Caster Semenya