PRETORIA: At first, Home Affairs officials required him to submit proof that he had changed from a woman to a man, then later informed him his documents went missing.
But the latest explanation that he could not be a man because he previously gave birth to a child, drove Stephen Lombard over the edge.
Lombard has struggled for nearly three decades to get the Department of Home Affairs to reflect the new sex on his ID.
However, he found justice this week when the high court in Pretoria eventually ordered the department to mark him as male on his ID.
Lombard is a victim of officials Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba castigated earlier this year, saying he was shocked to hear they demanded proof from lesbian, gay and transgender people.
“What shocked me the most was the attitude of the officials… What kind of proof are you asking for? That is shocking,” Gigaba said in June, adding that the matter was receiving attention.
Lombard, 49, approached the court after the department simply ignored his request, lost his documents or insisted on confirmation from his doctor that he was in fact now a man.
All these documents were given to the department, but nearly 30 years after his sex- reassignment procedure, the Boksburg-based Lombard was still waiting in vain as all his requests fell on deaf ears.
“I was accused of fraud and beaten by unnamed officials, who said it was evident from my appearance that I was a man, although my ID reflected that I was a woman.
“I have been discriminated against on the grounds of gender and sex, and deprived of basic human rights and dignity.
“The lack of a correct ID affects my life on a daily basis as I cannot conduct basic transactions that require that I confirm my identity."
The department at first said it was processing the document, but then refused when it turned out that he had a child prior to his surgery. Another excuse was that the department could not verify his fingerprints.
Lombard said his freedom of movement had also been prejudiced as he could not apply for a visa to travel abroad, nor get a driving licence. He said he had lost his independence.
He also struggled to get employment without an ID, and could not open a bank account or obtain credit.
Apart from this, Lombard said, he had been deprived for more than 26 years of his right to vote.
“I have been accused of fraud on numerous occasions as I am a man, but my ID reflects I am a woman. This is humiliating,” he said.
“I have been discriminated against on the grounds of gender and sex and deprived of basic human rights."