Tsheola Mapalakanye



On 13 February 2014, Facebook’s collaboration with Press for Change and Gender Intelligence culminated in the drop down autocomplete menu of genders for users to choose from. The initial list constituted 58 genders but Facebook ultimately settled on 3 options; female, male and other (please specify.) The addition of the ‘other’ category was necessitated by the recognition of people who do not fit neatly into the gender binary. The ‘T’ in LGBTIQ represents the portion of the population which has an expressed gender identity which is incongruent with their natal sex. In America, this group represents 0.6% of the population which translates to 1.4 million people. Transgender people demonstrate the fluidity of gender as a social construct. After all, sex is determined by what is between one’s legs and gender reflects what lies between one’s ears.

The previous sentence is politically correct and it insinuates that gender and natal sex are independent of each other. Natal sex is said to be assigned by midwives and society at birth. Natal sex is not arbitrarily assigned by society, it is a biological reality which solidified by the 23rd  pair of XX and XY chromosomes imprinted in the nucleus of every single one of the 10 trillion cells that make up the human body.  The XX and XY chromosomes are functional outside the reproductive tract as discovered by MIT Professor, David Page.  The genetic differences between one male and one female are 15 times the differences between two males and two females. To deny the significant biological differences between the two sexes is to deny Darwinian evolution theory, genetic science and the common sense logic that human beings are sexually dimorphic. Nature loves variety and so there are outliers such as people with intersex conditions who, in the past have had their most pronounced features decide which of the sexes they will be assigned. The claim that sex is assigned is a pseudoscientific statement used by ill-informed ideologues and belongs in the same category as phrenology.

Unlike chromosomes and hormones, gender identity is not empirically measurable. The extent to which societal conditioning impacts gender identity cannot be denied as gender is performed.  It is absolutely disingenuous to assume that societal conditioning nullifies the biological differences between the sexes. Methods designed by child psychiatrist, Trond Diseth to determine the most appropriate sex for intersex infants  demonstrate the limitated influence of social norms on gender identity. An experiment on male and female monkeys on their preferences for typical male and female toys also proves it. Infants and primates cannot be indoctrinated to prefer one toy over another. How did we come to believe that biological sex and gender develop independently of each other? The distinction between sex and gender has its origins at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s and 1960s.

Clinical psychologist, John Money repurposed the word ‘gender’ to make it specific to human beings and pioneered gender fluidity theory. He believed that humans are born gender neutral and indoctrinated into assuming one of the two genders. To prove his hypothesis, he performed an experiment on identical twin boys, Brian and Bruce Reimer. Johns Hopkins was the mecca of clinical studies and treatment of people with intersex conditions, people exhibit delayed and precautious puberty as well as those with ambiguous genitalia. The Reimers sought help from Johns Hopkins because their sons had phimosis which is a condition that prevents the penis from retracting fully to facilitate urination. A circumcision was the simplest solution and was performed at seven months old. The physician used cauterization (burning) to remove the foreskin and ablated Bruce’s penis beyond surgical repair. Brian’s phimosis resolved itself naturally.

John Money advised the parents to raise Bruce as a female and so they renamed him Rebecca. Money convinced the parents that through conditioning, Bruce would assume the identity of a heterosexual female. Bruce was surgically castrated at 17 months and underwent genital reconstructive procedures at 21 months. A rudimentary vagina was created and an opening was made in the abdomen to enable him to pass urine. Oestrogen was administered during adolescence to promote the development of secondary sex traits like breasts. The twins offered the perfect sample for Money because they had identical DNA, were reared in the same environment and Brian was a control subject.

Money documented his annual psychological tests with the twins as part of his research on childhood sexual development and gender. The twins reported that Money would instruct them to perform genital inspections on each other, watch pornographic material and rehearse sexual positions. Money said these exercises were necessary for healthy childhood sexual exploration and would help Rebecca assume the identity of a heterosexual adult. After threatening to commit suicide in protest against attending another session with Money, Bruce’s father told him of his botched circumcision and subsequent procedures. Bruce immediately assumed the male identity at 14 years and opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery for a penis. He then changed his name to David. He married a woman and attempted suicide twice before he succeeded at age 38. Prior to his death, he participated in a follow up study by Milton Diamond and publicly disclosed his ordeal in the December 1997 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Brian struggled with schizophrenia and died of an antidepressant overdose in June 2002.

The legacy of Money’s unethical and unscientific methods persists today in the sphere of transgender medicine. Children are increasingly being subjected to these experimental methods of treatment to address the dysphoria brought about by the incongruence of their sex and gender identity. There is no scientific consensus on the standardised diagnostic tools and treatment of transgender people. The cause of the gender dysphoria transgender people suffer with is a mystery and is a contentious issue in the medical community. Some experts believe that it is a neurological condition that places the wrong brain in the wrong body and thus the wrong hormones interact with the opposite gendered brain. Other experts believe that it is a mental illness characterised by a person’s persistent and consistent delusions. They believe that psychotherapy alone is necessary to treat it. Gender dysphoria was called ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ in the DSMIV and a technique called ‘watchful waiting’ was used to treat transgender children. Dr Paul McHugh closed Money’s operation in 1979, has over 125 peer reviewed articles and he is a proponent of watchful waiting. Dr Kenneth Zucker boasts a success rate of 80% for female patients and 98% for males using his methods. His study on this method of treating gender dysphoria is not peer-reviewed and thus does not loyally follow the scientific method of discovery. Proponents of altering the body to match the mind have no evidence to prove that cross gender hormones and sex reassignment surgery truly alleviate gender dysphoria. The suicide rate of transgender people is 20 times that of their comparable peers even after surgical interventions.

The common shortcomings of the studies that embolden people on both sides of the argument are major. They often have small sample sizes so assessment tools are not always validated. Secondly, there is considerable loss to follow up which compromises the studies. Thirdly, they lack concurrent control subjects or testing before and after surgery. Their tendency to be hypothesis generating instead of hypothesis testing is also worrisome. There is no standardized testing for gender dysphoria, all that is required is for an individual to self-diagnose. Part of the reason for this can be found in a study of 1400 brains through autopsy at Tel-Aviv University.

The researchers at Tel-Aviv analysed three features that correlate with sex. The features are patterns of brain activity, grey and white matter. The research showed that it is rare for a single brain to exhibit either masculine or feminine features exclusively. The male brain is larger than the female brain but the female brain has thicker cortexes which are associated with cognitive ability.

The main physical difference between male and female brains is the ration of grey to white mater. Women have 10 times more white matter than men and men have 6.5 times more grey matter than women. The grey and white matter studied is related to intelligence.  Another study used MRI techniques to examine the brains of 18 FtoM (Female to Male) transsexuals and 19 heterosexual female controls and 24 heterosexual male control subjects.  They discovered that the transsexual subjects (born female) had the same grey to white matter ratio as the gender they identified with (males.) This study was done on people who experienced gender dysphoria but opted not to transition using cross sex hormones and surgical interventions. The amount of testosterone in the bloodstream is also linked to how microstructures form in the brain. As a layman, it is incredibly difficult to reconcile the fact that there is no such thing as a gendered brain and that transgender people have the “wrong” gendered brain interacting with the wrong body’s hormones. Researchers also state that one cannot infer anything about innate skills, behaviours and the extent to which social engineering can be discounted when observing the brains of the sexes.

Behaviour alters the brain so there may be some credibility to the notion that gender dysphoric children tend to desist from transitioning if allowed to go through puberty naturally. Due to the loss to follow up in older transgender studies, desisters and detransitioners are not accounted for. Websites like sexchangeregret.com and organisations such as The Heritage Foundations do the work to assist detransitioners who believe that surgical interventions did more harm than good. The assumption that gender identity is innate is also challenged by twin studies which show that identical twins with identical DNA do not share a gender identity 72% of the time.

The use of puberty blockers was restricted to help those experiencing precautious puberty. Now, they are used to assist children with gender dysphoria even though they are not FDA approved for this use. Puberty blockers, when used in physiologically normal children, have negative effects. They reduce the growth rate in height, lead to low bone density, abnormal glucose tolerance, breast cancer and in some cases lead to more self-harming tendencies. They permanently sterilize children because they force the reproductive organs to atrophy. They are used to stop the sexual development at the onset of puberty and are followed up by cross-sex hormones. Gender reassignment surgery also does not alter the genetics of a transgender person’s natal sex.

The ethical issue of experimenting on children has not been addressed adequately. Puberty is a natural development state. It is stage three in Piaget’s model of cognitive development. Puberty’s main function is not only to make humans reproductively viable but also involves changes in the brain and psyche. Although the human brain reaches 95% of its full size by age six, it doesn’t stop developing until adulthood.

The prefrontal cortex which is responsible for higher order cognition, planning and decision making stops growing in the mid-twenties. The limbic system which is responsible for hormone regulation also develops during puberty. From a psychological perspective, teenagers try to balance their need to stand out with their need to belong to a social group. I would not trust many of the decisions I made as a teenager in as much as the government did not trust me to vote, drive or enter a legal contract. Teenage offenders are not expected to be sanctioned as severely as adult offenders for the same antisocial behaviours and crimes. This is because it is common knowledge that children do not have the ability to control their impulses as well as adults. Yet, through experimental science, children are expected to make life-long decisions on their fertility and gender-identity. There is nothing as transphobic as a society that has higher standards for weight loss products than for drugs that relate to the treatment of a group of people who are so marginalized.  Banned drugs like DES (DiEthylStilbestrol) are possibly linked to gender dysphoria and demonstrate the disastrous effects of shoddy medical research on human lives. The latest studies on puberty blockers for pubescent children indicate that instead of resolving the dysphoria, they increase mental health issues in children. It is abusive to tamper with a child’s natural biological development when there is no conclusive evidence that it is beneficial in the long term and where the full extent of the medical effects is unknown.

The transgender agenda should extend beyond discussing the unfair advantage transgender females have over cis-gender women and the issue of legislating the use of preferred gender pronouns at the expense of free speech.



The land issue, as it is commonly referred to, is one of the most emotive topics South Africa is yet to resolve. In a bid to be consistent with the values of democracy, parliament has facilitated a process of public participation to address the issue. Of the over 700 000 written submissions, that of AfriForum was the most polarizing.

It came at a time when US president Donald Trump echoed the lie that white farmers are facing genocide at the hands of the black majority in South Africa. That narrative predates Trump’s Tweet in American white supremacist circles.  In 2012, the ADL Centre on Extremism reported that neo-Nazi and racist skinhead movements were preparing to protest against “genocide of whites in South Africa.”

AfriForum has a similar stance on what they term “farm murders” which when quantified, accounted for 74 of the 20366 murders reported by the SAPS from 1 April 2016 to 1 March 2017. The term “genocide” is an unnecessary hyperbole.

The written submission by Afriforum was a plethora of mistruths and lacked substantive solutions and suggestions. Afriforum isolated three methods through which white settlers acquired land. These modes were the settlement on unoccupied land, purchases from tribal leaders and conquest. In addition, they claim that conquest was the least significant of these modes of acquisition. Although they claim they sympathise with the plight of the landless African majority, they suggest land reform should be conducted in a “historically accurate” manner. We are yet to be enlightened on what the litmus test for the historical accuracy is.

Farm lobbying group, Agri SA states that 73.3% off agricultural land in SA is white owned. In 1994, government and “previously disadvantaged” individuals owned 14.9% of agricultural land and 26.7% in 2016. Government ownership of land accounts for 29.1% of the land value and 46.5% of the production value. This is disproportionate using any measure, even in the absence of a comprehensive land audit. In the same breath, it is short-sighted to place all our focus on agricultural land. Only 12% of the country’s land is suitable to cultivate rain-fed crops. The primary agricultural sector contributes 2% of GDP. The idea that food security will be compromised as a result of land expropriation is absurd.

South African farmers are dwarfed by Chinese farmers who, due to stable water sources, are able to “double crop.” This technique allows for rice to be cultivated in June/July and a less productive crop in October/November using the same size of land. Agriculture and geography will help debunk the first myth that whites occupied unoccupied land.

The nomadic lifestyle of precolonial South Africa was not a function of underdevelopment but rather, a function of Africa’s geography. Africa is three times the size of Europe so it is reasonable to assume that there are vast vacant areas. Africa is a large landmass and deserts like the Sahara and Kahari form easily inland 30 degrees from the equator. Rainforests form on the equator while savannas form between the rainforests and savannas.

Rainfall is unpredictable. Savannas starve when there is little rainfall while the soil in rainforests gets eroded when there are heavy rains. These dynamics make agriculture extremely challenging in Africa. Large static and urbanised communities can only be sustained by large-scale farming. There were exceptions to the nomadic societies. Great Zimbabwe and Kilwa Kisiwani are such exceptions. Since the border between Zimbabwe and SA is artificial, we can use the story of Cecil John Rhodes to debunk the second myth that land was acquired legally through sales.

Rhodes left his brother’s cotton plantation to join the diamond rush in Kimberly.  The Rudd Concession was used to obtain the Royal Charter but it also granted De Beers exclusive mining rights in Lobengulo’s territory which would be restricted to 10 mines. This was in exchange for protection from Boer settlers.

Armed with maxim guns, he hired 1400 mercenaries, each promised 6000 acres of land and 16 claims to mine gold Rhodes killed 3000 of Lobengula’s warriors. As President of the British South Africa Company (BSAC), Rhodes managed to obtain a Royal Charter from the United Kingdom. The Royal Charter was granted under the guise that Rhodes would control parts of Mashonaland and Matebeleland that were “not in use” by the native Africans. The Royal Charter gave BSAC to establish a police force, create financial institutions and fly its own flag.

By 1895, BSAC had imposed a hut tax, native reservations and introduced passes to restrict the movements of the African majority. By 1914, the African majority (97% of the population) occupied 23% of the non-productive land. As Prime Minister of the British Cape Colony, he oversaw the implementation of the Glen Grey Act which sought to further dispossess blacks. This act ensured that blacks were not allowed to sell land without the consent of the governor and were barred from subletting land. To ensure that landlessness was a generational phenomenon for blacks, the act also stated that blacks were not allowed to give land as an inheritance to more than one heir.

Due to their insatiable hunger for African land and minerals, the Boers in the Transvaal and Rhodesians had a bloody war. The first concentration camps were as a result of this war. The rationale for Rhodes’ aggression towards the Boers was simple. The revenues from gold would make the Boers a threat. If they were to join forces with German colonists in the west (Namibia) they would disturb his grand plans to move north and ultimately colonize the entire African continent.

Afriforum needs to enlighten us on how such contracts could have been legally binding if Lobengula and many other African leaders did not have contractual capacity to enter such contracts as they did not understand the language these contracts were written in.

Conquest was the most barbaric tool used to attain land. The legal steps taken to dispossess Africans were equally unjust and the most effective because the status quo remains. Populist politicians would have us believe that land ownership equals prosperity.

This may very well be the case in a situation where blacks are backyard dwellers and townships are densely populated. “I prefer land to niggers” is a quote by Rhodes that would sum up Afriforum’s stance to land reform.



Marriage is a milestone that most of us would love to reach at some point in our adult lives. The emancipation of women in most spheres of society has put the archaic gender roles in focus and as a consequence, the relevance and purpose of marriage as an institution has to be examined.

In order to do so, one needs to view the evolution of marriage through various historic and economic epochs. These economic ages played a role in morphing marriage into what we know it to be today.  Central to this exercise are the modern woman’s motivations to get married and sustain a marriage. I have decided to solicit the help of basic psychology and the recent marriage and divorce statistics to do just that.

“Marriage for the pursuit of love is a fairly new concept that gained traction in the 1500s…”

The most recent marriage and divorce statistics released by Statistics South Africa reveal that the rate of divorce has increased by almost 5% from 2012 to 2017. It is reported that 51.1% of the divorce proceedings were initiated by wives while 34.2% were initiated by husbands.

Many may argue that this statistic may be a reflection of the inability of modern South African woman to endure the challenges of marriage as women of bygone times have. As the microwave generation, instant gratification may be hard wired into our collective psyche. It is therefore not surprising that most divorces occur between five and nine years of marriage. The question of what may have hampered our ability to bekezela has piqued my interest from the rime of the release of the marriage and divorce statistics.

The court endorses three main reasons for the dissolution a marriage. These are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, mental illness and the continuous unconsciousness of a spouse. Financial difficulty is a major driver of divorce as well. Couples who are not economically active account for a quarter of the divorces registered. Marriage for the pursuit of love is a fairly new concept that gained traction in the 1500s.

Initially, marriage was an institution reserved for the wealthy who wished to form economic and political alliances. With the end of feudalism and the effects of the renaissance, marriage was for lack of a better word; expropriated for the enjoyment of the ordinary man. For most of recorded human history, marriage was meant to serve the purposes of reproduction and economic survival.

The legal doctrine of coverture ensured that wives were reduced to the legal status of a minor. They had no authority over their own property and could not exist as independent legal entities. Wives were not permitted to enter legal contracts, draft wills or exercise control over their own wages. The underlying assumption was that man and wife were one being: the husband. Due to the subordinate status of the wife, her consent wasn’t required in the execution of any financial decisions. In light of such an oppressive system, marriage was by far the most critical financial transaction a woman could possibly undertake.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a basic psychological tool you may have come across in a life orientation class.  It is represented by a pyramid that houses five needs in order from the most primitive to the more complex needs that differentiate us from animals. The two lowest levels house basic physiological and safety needs. The middle tiers relate to psychological needs such as love, esteem and a sense of belonging. The need to self actualize is at the apex of the pyramid. Self actualisation is the need related to personal growth and the fulfilment of the purpose of one’s life. As is the case with any decent video game, one cannot proceed to address a higher need without satisfying the most basic needs.

Abraham Maslow’s. It is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review.


The gradual liberation of women has rendered marriage obsolete as a tool for women’s economic survival. The average age for women to get married has increased from 30 years in 2012 to 32 years in 2016. This is mainly due to the women pursuing tertiary education and choosing to climb the proverbial corporate ladder.

As women are increasingly able to satisfy their basic physiological needs in the absence of marriage, their motivations to marry and remain married elevate from the most primitive to more complex.  It is intellectually lazy to assume that character deficiencies lead to a higher number of women initiating divorce. Women increasingly initiate divorce in modern times because their needs are more complex than they were before.

Women who opt for divorce want out of the union more badly than they want to benefit financially from marriage. If the predictions of a fourth industrial revolution in our lifetime are true, marriage may increasingly be used as a tool of self-actualize and not so much as a tool to satisfy our most primitive needs.

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