• Human rights activist Lame Olebile with court case winner Tshepo Ricki Kgositau. (Facebook/Lame Olebile)
Tshepo Ricki Kgositau has won the right to have her correct gender identity reflected on official documents.
By
Michaela Morgan

14 Dec 2017 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 14 Dec 2017 - 12:47 PM

A transgender woman in Botswana has won the right to be legally recognised as a woman on her official identification documents.

Tshepo Ricki Kgositau has identified as female since she was a child. Reuters reports that being misgendered on her identity card has caused “emotional distress and increased her vulnerability to abuse and violence”.

Kgositau first applied for legal gender recognition in 2011 at the Civil and National Registration office in Gaborone—but was denied and told to obtain a court order.

“The registrar denied the change of the gender marker on my Omang document despite the fact that the National Registration Act states that the registrar can use their discretion to allow this change in circumstances where these particulars materially affect the person’s registration,” Kgositau told The Monitor.

Kgositau wrote in her application to the High Court of Botswana that her “innate gender identity is, and has since an early age, always been female and that her family has embraced her and loved her as a woman”. 

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On Tuesday, Justice Leatile Dambe of Botswana’s High Court ordered that the registry must officially recognise Kgositau’s gender identity.

“The director of the National Registration is ordered to issue the applicant with a new Identity Card identifying her as a female within 21 days of this court order,” Dambe ordered.

Cindy Kelemi from the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) commented that the case has proved the country's courts are capable of protecting the LGBT+ community from discrimination.

“We therefore urge sexually and gender diverse individuals to continue using the courts to claim their rights", she said. 

The decision comes just months after the High Court recognised a transgender man’s right to change the gender marker on his birth certificate.

Human Rights Watch praised the decision as a step forward for trans rights in the country.

“It also shows the value of independent courts in Botswana acting to uphold the rights of minority groups,” the organisation said. 

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