The South African Sex Description Act was amended, signed by the President of South Africa and circulated in the Government Gazette, on 15 March 2004.

A quick overview of Act 49 of 2003:

The Act applies to:

  •       Persons having gender reassignment.
  •       Intersexed persons.


  •       For gender reassignment, reports by two medical practitioners.
  •       For intersexed persons, reports by a medical practitioner and a psychologist/social worker.

Who may apply?

Any person whose sexual characteristics have been altered by:

  1. i)                   surgical (treatment)
  2. ii)                   or medical treatment

iii)                 or by evolvement through natural development resulting in gender reassignment, or any person who is intersexed may apply to the Director-General of the National Department of Home Affairs for the alteration of the sex description on his or her birth register.


 “…evolvement through natural development” is not defined in the Act, so it could be interpreted as changes in biological development, or as changes in psychological/social development.

Critical comment:

 The Act assumes and demands that applicants must undergo some kind of change before they qualify for an alteration of sex description.

Click here to view a summary of the whole process (overview, history, parliamentarian lobbying, explanation of Act 49 of 2003, oral presentations, Parliament decisions, inadequacies, obstacles, impact, and way forward)