pretoria_trans_pupil_tries_to_commit_suicide_after_school_abusesA young transgender pupil in Pretoria has attempted suicide after he was abused by his schoolmates.

Activists from Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) have reported that Tshepo (not his real name) has been targeted by his fellow pupils, and their older friends who are not pupils at the school.

They tried to disrobe him, threatened him, posed uncomfortable questions and suggested that Tshepo’s gender expression existed because he is afraid to sleep with men.

According to TIA, since the incidents took place, Tshepo has been absent from school as he feels that he is not safe, and has even attempted suicide.

In a heartbreaking note that he left for his mother before attempting to overdose on pills, Tshepo wrote: “I feel so small. I just want to die and get over this.”

“School is a place thought to be safe but in his case it has become a place of fear,” commented the organisation.

His mother, Kedibone, claims that the school principal has not acknowledged the seriousness of the matter and has not offered any aid for her child.

The series of events occurred on the premises of Pretoria Central High School, which states as one of its mission statements that it aims to “promote values like mutual respect for one another’s right to religious conviction, expression and association.”

TIA claims that the school’s vice-president is aware of the incidents, but when the organisation asked for comment regarding the matter, he told the group to direct all questions to the Department of Education.

TIA also states that when it referred Tshepo to a psychologist at Kalafong Hospital in regards to his gender reassignment therapy, the psychologist refused to assist him.

“She felt that the need for his surgery was not a priority as compared to cancer patients and furthermore stated that Tshepo must accept that he has breasts and that whether or not he gets the surgery his gender will never change,” said TIA.

They added: “The psychologist clearly lacks respect for transgender patients. This highlights the reality that gender reassignment therapy is not seen as priority in most health institutions, even when people seeking this important intervention in their lives continue to take their lives when denied access to it.

“Although South Africa is the most liberal country on the continent when it comes to LGBTI rights, traditional values still hold strong in rural areas and townships. This case highlights the multiple layers of oppression that transgender people in South Africa face, especially young black transgender people,” added TIA.

The organisation revealed that it is now in talks with the Department of Education in a bid to assist the young victim.

It urged the department to investigate the matter further and provide much needed support to the pupil and his family. “We cannot turn a blind eye while transgender people face discrimination, inequity and prejudice within our education institutions,” TIA said.

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