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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

South Africa: I'm not a fake woman, says intersex Jennifer

The Coat of arms of South AfricaImage via Wikipedia
Source: The Times

By Taschica Pillay

A Glenwood woman is fighting for a South African identity document and also to be recognised as a female South African.

Jennifer Kisten, 42, who is intersex or transgender, wants to be accepted and recognised as a woman.

Kisten, who returned to South Africa six months ago after spending 20 years in the Netherlands, has been battling to get a new ID number, change her name from Gordon to Jennifer, and be classified as female.

"I have spent R80000 over the past six years in legal fees trying to get an ID book. I have all the documents to prove that I am a woman. While in Holland, I had genital correction done in 2001," she said.

Kisten was born with male genitalia and later discovered she had female organs.

"I had female organs in me. My ovaries were removed a long time ago. I am totally female. I have a perfectly normal relationship with my boyfriend, Liaan Myburgh."

She said the Department of Home Affairs didn't acknowledge her as a female.

"They lost my files. Now they say they are going to speed up the process to have it ready. I want to be able to open a bank account and register with SARS.

"In the Netherlands, I am classified as a female. I have all the Dutch documents proving I am female. Why am I being discriminated against here? This is my country and I should not be treated like this."

Kisten, who was adopted as a baby, ran away from her Chatsworth home at the age of 16 after allegations of sexual abuse. "I lived in Johannesburg before moving to the Netherlands, where they are more tolerant of people like me. People in SA still call me a fake woman."

She said she would be focusing on transgender, intersex and gay and lesbian people in South Africa and their rights.

"I want people to come out and live their lives, because many intersex people lock themselves up because society does not accept them. People need to be tolerant of people like me. People should not be disrespectful of us."
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