Hardly two months after a Botswana transgender man won a 10 year battle to be legally recognised as a man, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, a transgender woman has achieved yet another landmark victory in court.
Justice Leatile Dambe of the Botswana High Court has ordered that Kgositau’s gender be changed to female in the national registry within seven days.
“The director of the National Registration is ordered to issue the applicant with a new Identity Card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order,” Dambe ordered.
The director of the National Registration is ordered to issue the applicant with a new Identity Card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order
Kgositau, the executive director of South African-based Gender Dynamix, an organization that advocates for the human rights of transgender and gender-variant people, had sued Botswana for refusing to change the gender on her identity document from male to female.
In court papers, Kgositau argued that she had since an early age identified as a woman and that the different gender on her identity document was causing her emotional distress and increased her vulnerability to abuse and violence.
The application included supporting evidence from her mother, siblings and relatives, as well as psychological and medical evidence to the effect that her “innate gender identity is, and has since an early age, always been female and that her family has embraced her and loved her as a woman”.
A conservative southern African nation of 2 million people, Botswana has been reluctant to fully acknowledge the rights of the LGBT community.
In October, the Botswana High Court ordered the government to change the gender marker on a transgender man’s identity card from female to male to respect his constitutional rights.
Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa who delivered that ruling said government had violated the plaintiff’s rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equality and freedom from discrimination and inhumane and degrading treatment.
Experts say up to 1 percent of the world’s population is transgender – men and women who feel they have been born with the wrong body and the wrong gender.
Despite these landmark rulings and the 2014 groundbreaking court ruling that allowed a gay rights group to register and campaign for changes to legislation, homosexual acts are still illegal in Botswana, much like in other African countries. Members of LGBT communities are often stripped, harassed, and ostracised by society.