There are still places in the world where trans news is hard to come by. Distance, language, governmental oppression are all bricks in that wall, but the cornerstone, a lack of media representation, makes it look insurmountable from within. Such is the case in South Africa where the lack of press can be a death knell for dreams of a fulfilling life.
South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was, according to Wikipedia, the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and South Africa was the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage. Officially gender recognition has been on the books since 2003 so what’s the problem?
South Africa’s transgender equality laws are so ambiguous they can be easily manipulated by any transphobic zerocrate making the process of being legally recognized in your authentic gender, a living hell.
Human Rights Watch reported in 2011 about the intolerable frequency of “corrective” rape, police transmisogyny and legal manipulations allowing perps to regain their freedom in hours to beat those who dare to complain.
Juanita Van Zyl from Pretoria South Africa knows these things all too well. She had been having a terrible time telling Planet Trans “I’ve been busy fighting with our Home Affairs and work this week.” explaining “Let me put it to you this way, our laws are far more advanced than the attitudes of people. That is the problem, even in government.”
“The Alteration of sex description act 49 of 2003 states you need medical or surgical transition and you should have primary or secondary sexual characteristics. said Juanita “The process requires a doctor confirm your status. You provide a report from your primary doctor and any other doctor to verify the findings. In reality, they can not dismiss your application on that. The problem is, a lot of personal prejudices comes in that get people’s applications dismissed.”
But everything begun to change when a local news outlet published about her plight.
“I went to the media after horrible treatment at home affairs and now they are treating me like a queen. I feel a little guilty that suddenly doors are opening up for me, but part of me are happy because my transition has been a journey of hell. Feels in a way this break is making up for all I had to face.”
So I asked Juanita Van Zyl what would she do if given a chance to pry that door open just a little further for those who follow?
She said, “You hardly hear any trans related stuff here like you said. I’m trying to change that.” And change that she will. Juanita a regular contributor at Woman 24 has agreed to also be our correspondent from South Africa. Welcome, Juanita Van Zyl!
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