Pretoria - At first, Home Affairs officials required him to submit proof that he changed from woman to man, then later informed him that 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 Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, eventually ordered the department to reflect his sex as male on his ID.
It must do so within 20 days.
Lombard is a victim of officials referred to by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba when he said he was shocked to hear that they demanded proof from gays and lesbians or people who had changed sex.
“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 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, Boksburg-based Lombard was still waiting in vain as all his requests fell on deaf ears.
Life without an ID document reflecting his sex as man was extremely difficult for the 49-year-old.
He stated in papers before court that he tried to obtain a driving licence. “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. I cannot get basic services to which other South Africans have access.”
Lombard said he was born in 1967 as a woman and spent a big portion of his life as female.
In 1988, he underwent sexual reassignment procedures and reconstructive surgery.
Shortly after his surgery, he applied at Home Affairs for a new ID number and to have a new picture in the document to reflect that he was now a man.
This was the start of his ongoing struggle with the department, which lasted several years. In spite of that, his ID still reflected that he was a woman.
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.
A despondent Lombard eventually turned to the Wits Law Clinic for help.
He said in terms of the Constitution, the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone, whether it be on race, gender or religion. “I have a clear right to an ID which reflects that I am a male,” he said.
Lombard said his freedom of movement had also been prejudiced as he could not apply for a visa to travel abroad, nor could he 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 in the elections.
“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.”