Gender Normalisation Surgery and the Best Interest of the Child in South Africa

Authors Rachel Sloth-Nielsen

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: None
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 29 Issue 1, 2018, p. 48 – 72


Children born with Intersex characteristics are routinely subjected to genital normalising surgery, with the decision to undergo this surgery being made by the child’s parents while they are still very young. The international community, including the United Nations ("UN"), has condemned these surgeries. In a ground-breaking decision, the Columbian Constitutional Court ruled that only the child can consent to the surgery and thus the surgery must be postponed until the child is able to consent. In the South African context, these surgeries violate the child’s dignity and autonomy. It is thus argued that these surgeries are not in the best interest of the child. The surgery should therefore not be performed until children themselves can consent in an informed manner.