UCT is accused of hosting a hurtful seminar on the LGBTQA+ community.Photo: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
UCT is accused of hosting a hurtful seminar on the LGBTQA+ community.Photo: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

UCT in the hot seat for hosting a ’hurtful’ seminar on LGBTQA+

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Sep 14, 2021

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The Gender Diversity Coalition is calling for urgent action for the alleged harmful and hurtful public seminar hosted by UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng on social media platforms at the weekend.

The Gender Diversity Coalition said it noted a letter from UCT dated September 6, in response to the seminar held on September 5 with Dr Kgomotso Mathabe, a practising urologist and a member of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s Gender Clinic.

“We are appalled that the vice-chancellor of UCT would curate a seminar titled, ‘What does science says about LGBTQA+’.

“The public outrage on all social media platforms responds to the innate violence and harms this seminar has caused on trans and intersex persons and their families who feel the daily violence of medical and pathologised diagnosis, that have no positive outcome on their lives,” the organisations said.

It alleges that in the discussion, Dr Mathabe provided misinformation regarding Intersex born children.

She was quoted as saying “intersex is a condition that is potentially life-threatening”.

“And what intersex is in its simplest terms is when a baby is born, we must be able to look at the genitals, the external genitals of the baby, and be able to say whether it’s a boy or a girl.

“And if a trained medical health professional can’t make that call, then we call that intersex and then it opens up a whole door.

“I mean, you know, these are done a certain pathway.

“So because we have had to get the skill sets to be able to manage the intersex baby, because you look at the baby and you’re like, I’m not sure that this is a small penis or whether this is a large clitoris…

“And then in terms of aesthetics, because how you are in the world depends a lot also on your physical appearance.”

The organisation said there is sufficient evidence that shows the link between trans suicidality and poor gender-affirming care due to dysphoric pathological practices and medical gatekeepers that have and continue to harm trans persons.

“This seminar has done just that and confirmed the gatekeeping and immense medical harm that resides in the false notion that trans and intersex persons require medical validation.

“We call on UCT to issue a strong statement with an appropriate response and commitment to action.

“This includes engagement with the community by the vice-chancellor, the UCT council, and the heads of UCT’s medical and clinical schools,” the organisation said.

UCT responded saying it respected the rights of the LGBTQA+ community.

It said the matter was receiving urgent attention.

“UCT will immediately put a panel to review the matter and come up with the university’s position.

“The panel will have LGBTQA+ representation,” the university said.

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