Wall of Resilience 2022
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Lulu’s Story of Legal Gender Recognition,
A Story of Resilience
I started my trans journey officially in 2017. Eight years prior to that I was still thinking where and how does one start to and if this is the step I really want to take. In this time, I was doing research on the process however I didn’t find the information helpful until I met a friend. This friend was in the process of transitioning, and they explained to me how to go about it. When I reflected on what was shared with me in comparison with what I found I realised how challenging it is to access gender affirming services.
I started self- medicating in 2017 until I began working for Wits RHI Transgender Clinic Bellville in 2019.
Due to my access to trans persons because of working at the clinic, we were contacted by many trans and gender diverse persons all over the country for treatment. Trans persons who were not as privileged as I was. They were unable to see psychologists, medical doctors, or access treatment from where they were due to lockdown and the closure of borders. Those of us working at the clinic realised how many people were struggling, how many of them were unwittingly de-transitioning and just how scarce service provision is for trans and gender diverse citizens in South Africa.
When it comes to gender recognition, I battled with my Identity Document having a picture of how I looked versus a visible name that was from a period prior to my transition. I felt like my identity was being interrogated because of my previous name being there. I often worried that I would be reported for fraud when that wasn’t the case.
The first time I went to the Department of Home Affairs was in October 2019 in Bellville to obtain my marriage certificate after almost being married almost a year, with the same breath I then changed my name to my preferred name. After that it took multiple calls to the call center only to find out that they are taking longer due to the covid-19 pandemic. The amendment for the name change was only done January 2021.
I had to obtain two letters from both my doctor as well as my psychologist to state that I am undergoing gender affirming treatment, which is also the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) so that I can change my gender marker on my ID. I went to Home Affairs in Wynberg 27 May 2021 to do the amendment for my gender marker, at this point I was very annoyed with the fact that I had to go and call numerous times, then only received confirmation of the change on the 24 of January 2022.
Knowing that the change has been done made me very excited and happy that I will now finally be recognized as a female to the world. I was then requested to do an application for the actual Smart ID card; however, I was only able to go on the 29th of April 2022. On the 05th of July 2022 I completed my journey with Home Affairs, and I must say that the feeling of people now addressing me as ma’am or/and Mrs. Abrahams and not having to double check my ID is indescribable.
The funds that I spent over this period was a lot however the end results are worth it min the end. I spent R350 at Home Affairs over the past 3 years, this is excluding the photos and transport. wow saying it that way makes it seems very long, hopefully going forward the wait will not be so long as you can now do the name change and the gender marker on the same day.
The R350 mentioned above consists of two parts:
Name Change R140
Gender Marker R70
Application Smart ID R140
My message to policy makers is and for us in the community to make Trans and gender diverse issues more prominent when it comes to implementing policy changes and Gender rights. South Africa is always hailed for having one of the best constitutions in the world however the lived experience for many of us isn’t as portrayed.
“I don’t live by quotes” – Lulu Abrahams