March 31 is commemorated annually as the International Transgender Day of Visibility. The day is a platform to celebrate transgender and gender-diverse people and their achievements and growing visibility in society.
It is also an opportunity to acknowledge that much work still needs to be done to attain a world in which transgender and gender-diverse individuals can live their lives with full equality, inclusion and dignity.
OUT LGBT Well-being calls on the South African government to fulfil its commitment to provide equal and affirming services to transgender and gender-diverse people.
This includes urgently amending the current restrictive and onerous Alteration of Sex Descriptors and Sex Status Act (Act 49 of 2003) which requires transgender individuals to have begun their medical transition before being allowed to request to change the sex descriptor on their identity documents.
Without accurate identity documents, transgender and gender-diverse people face struggles to secure employment, access services and travel. Delays in timeously providing applicants with amended identity documents are not acceptable.
The government must also proceed with proposed new identity management legislation that will be inclusive of transgender, gender-diverse and intersex South Africans.
“OUT salutes those transgender and gender-diverse people in our country who are helping to visibilise the community, despite the ever-present risk of discrimination and violence,” says Lerato Phalakatshela, OUT’s Human Rights Manager. “We also look forward to a day when all transgender and gender-diverse people feel free to openly be themselves, without stigma or fear.”