High Court Judge Leatile Dambe is today (Friday) expected to hear a landmark gender identity case, which challenges the Registrar of National Registration for refusing to change the gender marker on identity document of a transgender woman.
The applicant, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau submits that the refusal to change her gender marker violated her rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.
Kgositau, 30, is currently executive director for South African-based transgender rights organisation, Gender DynamiX. She has previously served as GDX’s Regional Programs Coordinator for some time and Advocacy Officer of Rainbow Identity Association in Botswana, which lobbies for the rights of transgender and intersex people.
The High Court has to consider whether the respondents’ refusal to issue the applicant with a new identity document that correctly reflects her gender identity as ‘female’ constitutes a violation of her constitutional rights, and whether the respondents’ justification for the limitation of the applicant’s constitutional rights is reasonable and justifiable.
The applicant is represented by Lesego Nchunga of Nchunga & Associates, with the support of Southern Africa Litigation Centre. Kgositau is a graduate of International Relations and Criminology from the Australian Monash University, specialising in Diplomacy and Human Rights.
She is passionate about pushing the agenda for trans research and to be trans lead and has also co-authored an article on Trans Studies Quarterly archiving trans his/her/their-story on the African continent (Trans Studies Quarterly, Vol.2).
During previous media interviews, Kgositau, who was born in a male body, said she has always felt like a girl before the transition.
“I think I must have been between five and six years old when I thought of myself as a girl who couldn’t do the things that boys did at school but weird enough, girls were also funny towards me when I tried to play with them as if I didn’t belong there but I grew up then with this knowledge that I apparently wasn’t a girl yet I felt like it and didn’t understand why I was addressed like boys,” she recalled.
Responding to the case, Lesbians Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) Coordinator Caine Youngman said the Registrar of National Registration is inconsiderate. “It is a very unfair practice. Refusing to grant Kgosiditau her request restricts her movements and generally, her whole life. I applaud her for standing for all transgender people. She is a champion,” he said, adding that transgender people face challenges with their identity documents almost everywhere they go such as hospitals and other facilities.