Gender activists have welcomed a move by the Ministry of the Interior (DHA) to take the wishes of transgender, non-binary and intersex people into account when assigning identity numbers.
The DHA has released a draft of its new official identity management policy, which is open for public comment until February 28th.
According to the draft, the DHA should introduce a national identity system (NIS) to prevent identity theft and digitize identity management.
All information about the identity of citizens and non-citizens in South Africa is stored in the NIS. The draft policy includes options for ID numbers to accommodate transgender, non-binary and intersex people.
Currently, the seventh digit in South African ID numbers indicates a person’s gender. A seventh digit between 0 and 4 means that the owner of the ID is a woman, while a seventh digit between 5 and 9 means that the owner of the ID is a man.
New options include random ID numbers and the introduction of an additional third category for intersex people.
Gender activists have welcomed the DHA’s recognition in the draft directive that the existing system excludes transgender, non-binary and intersex people.
Iranti program specialist Sibusiso Kheswa said, “The ability to have randomized ID numbers where gender is not encoded means anyone can have a neutral ID number without worrying about being out of line.” Excursion refers to the disclosure of a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation without their consent.)
Gender Dynamix (GDX), an organization promoting transgender human rights, also advocates randomized identity numbers.
“GDX fully supports the recommendation to have randomized ID numbers – which means that no data is encoded into the ID number, including date of birth, gender, or citizenship. This would be a critical aspect of our recommendations to DHA.
“Random numbers protect an individual’s personal information and can stay with the person for life, whether or not the information changes over time,” said Zoey Black, law and education attorney at GDX.
A third category is proposed
Both Iranti and GDX disagree with some aspects of the draft directive, which contains a new X-category for completing the gender field in various official documents in addition to men and women.
Iranti is in talks with the DHA to clarify misleading language, Kheswa said. “There is a third gender and sexual orientation mentioned in politics … We are talking about gender. We do not advocate a third gender, we advocate a third gender category that can be represented by an X. That X means unspecified gender, ”he said.
The third gender category is important for the inclusion and self-determination of intersex people, said Kheswa.
“When a baby is born with different gender characteristics or ambiguous genitals, doctors often rush to operate on and“ fix ”a specific gender of the child. The intersex community worldwide has rejected these operations. When we have the Interior legally recognizing intersex people, parents and doctors leave the child to grow and identify, ”he said.
While the draft directive suggested that the X should be used for transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals, Kheswa said that all individuals should be able to choose the unspecified gender option.
GDX doesn’t endorse assigning an X exclusively to non-binary, transgender, and intersex individuals, Black said.
“Trans and gender specific individuals are already exposed to extraordinary marginalization and discrimination, even by DHA officials. The creation of an “X” would maintain, if not worsen, the already dire position of trans people and communities, and put them at even greater risk of discrimination and violence, “she said.
- Written by Masego Mafata.
- This article first appeared on Ground Up. You can read the original article Here.
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