The court noted that the refusal to change the applicant’s gender marker was “unreasonable” and violated a person’s rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.

It ordered the registrar to change the gender marker on the applicant’s identity document (Omang) from “female” to “male” to protect his dignity and well-being.

The court previously issued an order that the applicant’s names and personal details remain confidential.

“This is an immense relief,” said the applicant. 

“It has been difficult waiting for the matter to take its course through the courts, and I am hopeful that other persons who find themselves in a similar situation will be dealt with in a more respectful manner when they apply for new identity cards.”

Activists described the verdict as “a monumental victory for the rights of transgender persons in the region.” 

“The judge’s finding that the refusal to change a transgender person’s identity documents violates constitutional rights, goes a long way in improving the lives of transgender persons”, says Tashwill Esterhuizen, LGBT and Sex Worker Rights Programme Lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

“It has been a difficult journey but we are elated with the outcome. The impact of this case should not be underestimated. If properly implemented, it has the potential to positively change the lives of transgender persons” says Ian Southey-Swartz, LGBTI Programme Manager at the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa.

KO/jn/APA