Botswana | Another victory for transgender rights

Ricki Kgositau

For the second time this year, the Botswana High Court has ordered the state to legally recognise the gender identity of a transgender person.

On Tuesday, in Gaborone, Justice Leatile Dambe told the national registrar to change Tshepo Ricki Kgositau’s gender from male to female in the national registry.

Dambe also ordered the director of national registration “to issue the applicant with a new identity card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order”.

Kgositau was born in Gaborone and raised between Botswana and the North West Province in South Africa. She is the Executive Director of Gender DynamiX, a regional transgender right organisation based in Cape Town.

According to her application, her “innate gender identity is, and has since an early age, always been female” and “her family has embraced her and loved her as a woman”.

Kgositau argued that the country’s refusal to acknowledge her as a woman infringed on her rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.

After the ruling, she told journalists outside the court that she was excited to see her seven year struggle for equality come to a positive conclusion.

Kgositau said the ruling was an important step in “ensuring that the rights of those that are deemed as inferior, as a minority to everybody else, need to also be upheld”.

She went on to say that “it offers us a whole lot of hope in so far as continuously driving towards an inclusive democracy in the country… it’s an exciting time.”

Kgositau noted that the ruling also offered hope to the rest of Africa. “Botswana has set a great precedent… advancing the rights of all people across the continent,” she added.

In September, the High Court also ruled in favour of a transgender man, identified only as ND; ordering the state to identify him as a man and provide him with a new identity document.

Last week, the national registrar said it would not appeal ND’s case and agreed to abide by the court’s decision.

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