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Transgender woman wins recognition

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Tshepo Kgositau
Tshepo Kgositau, a transgender woman has succeeded in her bid to have her gender marker on her Identity Card (Omang) change from male to female.

In what many human rights advocacy groups would view as a giant step in achieving inclusive democracy for minority groups such as transgender people, the Gaborone High Court yesterday ordered the Registrar of Births and Deaths to amend the registers to reflect Kgositau as female not as male.

Kgositau was suing the Civil and National Registration for refusal to change the gender marker on her identity documents.

Justice Leatile Dambe ordered that the amendment in the registry must be done within seven days of the court order.  Dambe’s order followed a consent agreement by the parties. Government had agreed to withdraw a notice of motion to oppose the application and filed a motion to abide. The Registrar of the Births and Deaths, who was not cited in the initial proceedings, was also joined in the matter.

“The Registrar of the National Registration is also hereby directed to issue the applicant (Kgositau) with a new Identity Card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order. Costs shall be payable by the first respondent,” she ordered.

It is said that in 2011, Kgositau applied to

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the Civil and National Registration office in Gaborone to have her gender marker changed from male to female, as “her birth assigned gender does not correspond with her internal and individual experience of gender”.

However, the regional Registrar denied that change, rather advising that she seeks a court order for the gender marker to be amended.

Kgositau said the reasons for the refusal were that she was put through a gender verification process that spanned a month, and at one point she was referred to Princess Marina Hospital where a physical exam was conducted.

She had also argued that though she was assigned at birth as ‘male’ instead of ‘female’ on her identity document, this was causing her “considerable and ongoing emotional distress while increasing her vulnerability to abuse and violence from state and non-state actors”.

In a brief interview just after her victory, Kgositau said she was very excited that the matter has reached finality.  She said Botswana has set great precedence in moving towards upholding the rights of the minority.  She said this speaks volumes about the progressiveness of the Attorney General.



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