Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

​Cast aside at birth for being intersex

“I have been searching for my parents all my life. I was abandoned by my parents in the hospital I was born in — the rural hospital in Nkayi in Zimbabwe. I was born part of a triplet, but they left me and took my two brothers. I think they abandoned me because I was born intersex, because I was the only one they left behind. It’s been 39 years now, but I’m still trying very hard to find them, because I don’t have a family.

“I grew up in an orphanage, where they just assumed I was a girl so they gave me a girl’s name, Thandiwe. But I identify as a man, especially because I don’t have any breasts. Growing up here was very hard. The other children were always laughing at me. So, going to school, I had very few friends.

“I lived at the orphanage until I was 17 years old. I went to college, where I studied electronics and sound engineering.

“I have a partner. We’ve been together for almost 12 years now — but it was very hard for me to open up to her at first. In fact, I could be intimate with her only after fours years together. But now I am happy I allowed myself to open up to her. She really understands me. She’s my everything. She brought me love I never had before.

“Being intersex can be very lonely. I wish I could tell all other intersex people that they are not alone; that there are many of us out there. I also just wish more people would understand that we, as intersex people, are human beings – real human beings.” —Malume Ngwenya, activist with Intersex Advocacy of Zimbabwe, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

US fashion contaminates Africa’s water

Untreated effluent from textile factories in in Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and Madagascar pours into rivers, contaminating the water

Deep seabed mining a threat to Africa’s coral reefs

The deep oceans are a fragile final frontier, largely unknown and untouched but mining companies and governments — other than those in Africa — are eying its mineral riches

Komodo dragon faces extinction

The world’s largest monitor lizard has moved up the red list for threatened species, with fewer than 4 000 of the species left

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…