A row has erupted over a transgender woman who has apparently been given a frosty reception by the organisers of the Miss South Africa pageant.
The trans-woman, Lindiwe Ringane, reportedly wanted to enrol in a workshop for potential participants but was made to feel unwelcome by the organisers, Sun International, reported Beeld on Monday.
Ringane’s story was also highlighted in SABC 3’s Special Assignment investigative documentary show on Tuesday night, which reported that Miss South Africa did not specifically refuse her entry to the pageant.
While the organisers say that there is no clause in the rules of Miss South Africa to prohibit a trans-woman from taking part, participants must also sign contracts for international pageants such as Miss World, which the winner would be expect to take part in.
Sun International explained that these pageants specifically bar anyone who is not a natural-born woman from participating.
While Ringane, who works as a model, has applied to the Department of Home Affairs to have her identity document changed, she is not yet legally registered as a woman.
According to Robert Hamblin from Gender Dynamix, a group representing transgender people, if Ringane does receive new identity documentation describing her as female, Miss South Africa would not be able to reject on the basis of her gender.
“Should the potential Miss South Africa participant have a South African female identity document it means that the state considers her to be a woman,” he said.
“In South Africa it would be very clearly illegal to discriminate against [such] a woman who has transitioned from male. It would be nice to see the pageant do the right thing though. It could be a wonderful learning experience for all involved,” he told Mambaonline.
The episode of Special Assignment also suggested that Home Affairs is impeding the process of transgender people receiving changed identify documents and is not fully aware of legislation governing this process.
According to South African law, a person can legally change their gender if they supply two medical reports stating that they have undergone the relevant medical or surgical procedure.
Ringane is apparently considering legal action against the Miss South Africa organisers should she not be allowed to take part because of her gender.