Today the 31st of March is Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness around the discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society. Today, we pay homage to members of the trans and gender diverse community who stood up, advocated for and worked tirelessly to advance the rights of trans and gender diverse persons. The issue of transgender visibility is complex and in a state of constant evolution, with experiences that are outside of the cisgender binary have often been erased. The trans and gender diverse community is incredibly diverse, and the adversity we face strongly intersects with racism, economic privilege, education, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, as advocacy efforts increase, the community is becoming more and more visible with trans and gender diverse persons becoming more connected and share their stories.
One of those who has made a valuable contribution in the South African context is Jade September, a transgender woman who is currently an inmate at the Malmesbury Correctional Facility. On the 23rd of September 2019, Jade achieved a significant victory in pushing for trans rights when she won a case she had lodged against the Department of Correctional Services. Her case September v Subramoney saw the Western Cape High Court hold that the Department of Correctional Services despite relying on prison policy, contravened the constitutional right to dignity and freedom of expression of a transgender woman by denying her the right to express her gender while incarcerated.
The resilience, strength and determination that it took for Jade to take the challenge the criminal justice system while still incarcerated. Further speaking to her passion to not only see change happen for herself but for many trans and gender diverse persons in similar circumstances as hers across the country. A few months after the judgement, Gdx sat down with her and she stated that it is ‘getting better’ for her, where she reiterated “I didn’t do this only for myself, I did it for all my sisters”. Despite this victory, the judgement to date is yet to be implemented showing that more work still needs to be done.
Gender Dynamix remains resolute in visibilising trans and gender diverse persons, our achievements, our struggles and the strength that is within the community. Our advocacy continues to be aimed at the realisation of the rights of trans and gender diverse persons.
Article by Khanyisile Phillips – Community Engagement Coordinator