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Gender reassignment surgery : medical issues and legal consequences.

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Gender reassignment procedures are performed for the treatment of the gender dysphoria syndrome (transsexualism). Although this modality of treatment is therapeutic in nature and therefore not contra bonos mores, the legal status of the post-operative transsexual remains that of his/her previous sex. The purpose of the gender reassignment procedures is that of acceptance within the community as a person of the sex indicated by his/her changed appearance. Nothing will be achieved by the successful completion of treatment if the person's changed sexual appearance is not recognised by the law as a change in sexual status as well. The law, by keeping aloof of the problem of the post-operative transsexual, has created a legal "vacuum" where there is social and judicial acceptance of reassignment procedures, but a refusal to give legal effect to the change in status that the transsexual obsessively desires and the operation simulates. This work will analyse the medical issues associated with gender reassignment procedures. The legal status of the transsexual after reassignment procedures will be explored, and in doing so, the human rights violations with which such people have to contend, will be highlighted. The constitutionality of the lack of a legal recognition of the post-operative transsexual's sexual status will be examined. It will be shown that there are compelling reasons for legislation to be introduced as a matter of urgency to safeguard the fundamental rights of the post-operative transsexual.


Thesis (LL.M.)-University of Natal, 2000.


Transsexuals--Legal status, laws, etc., Sex change--Moral and ethical aspects., Sex change--Law and legislation--South Africa., Theses--Law.