Botswana: “Sweet closure” as Botswana finally agrees to recognise trans man

The government of Botswana had agreed to abide by a historic court ruling ordering it to acknowledge a transgender man’s gender identity.

According to the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), the national registrar confirmed that it will supply the man, identified as ND, with a new identity document that reflects his male gender identity on or before Monday, 18 December 2017. The news is a significant reversal of the registrar’s position after it earlier indicated that it would appeal the 29 September decision by the High Court of Botswana, which affirmed the applicant’s rights.

“They have subsequently decided they will not appeal,” said SALC Executive Director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh. “So, the high court decision stands,” she told Mambaonline.

ND commented that he was relieved that his years-long legal battle had finally come to an end. “Closure has never felt this sweet,” he said. “To live years in a mistaken identity is beyond the unthinkable. I am excited to finally move on with my life. I hope that many others in my position would have a similar opportunity to live their life with dignity.”

"Recognition of the applicant’s gender identity lies at the heart of his fundamental right to dignity,” said Judge Nthomiwa in his September ruling.

“Gender identity constitutes the core of one’s sense of being and is an integral of a person’s identity. Legal recognition of the applicant’s gender identity is therefore part of the right to dignity and freedom to express himself in a manner he feels …comfortable with.” 

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