After being crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2017 last week, Sharon Rose Khumalo (25) has revealed that she is intersex. Speaking publicly, the Pretoria beauty queen is using her platform to bring attention to a condition that is not often spoken about and refers to people who have sex characteristics (chromosomes, sex hormones or genitals) that "do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies".
In this month's issue of Glamour South Africa, the 2016 Miss SA finalist spoke about how she is "proud to be an intersex female" and that "being a person of substance has nothing to do with being straight, gay, lesbian, transgender or intersex".
Speaking to Sowetan, Khumalo said that she was "shattered" when she found out she was intersex at the age of 21. The diagnosis came when she went to see a doctor after not getting her period during puberty. "For me there was no reason my parents could think otherwise. I grew up seemingly like a normal traditional female. It was just the delay [in having periods] and even then it was never the first thing we thought of," Khumalo said.
According to TimesLIVE, Khumalo does not have a uterus or ovaries and can not have children. "Sometimes I am okay and then on some days I look at other women who have children and I know I will never have that, but I have learnt to accept that this is the situation and I can't really change that."
When she entered Miss SA, she started a blog to document her experience and says that she was scared about revealing that she was intersex."I had fears that someone somewhere might say this and this and then it turns into something nasty, but the judges supported me." She says the blog first helped her to deal with her diagnosis, but later it became a place that other people going through similar experiences could go to and relate with. "It was just a case of dealing with that, letting someone know that 'listen, whatever you are going through whether its similar or different to my situation, we are still human at the end of the day'," she said.