SPEAKING OUT: Andre Taylor, 28, of Gugulethu, said she was forced to resign after being ordered to stop using the female bathroom at her company. She then took it to the CCMA and won. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - From fighting to dress like a woman in a male prison, to a transgender woman who left her job after using her company’s female bathroom and who took it to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), LGBTQ activists have labelled 2018 as a “trying year”.

“Every year there is more exposure and a little more progress in terms of acceptance. Both gender equality and falling into the transgender bracket have been very controversial topics. We, however, are extremely fortunate to live in a country where neither restricts us, but allow us to be who we are,” said Karl Hildebrandt, the chairperson of the PWR Project.

The year ended on a high note when Jade September, a transgender prisoner at the Helderstroom Maximum Correctional Centre in Caledon, turned to the Equality Court to compel the departments of Justice and Correctional Services to allow her to dress as a woman.

September, convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years, submitted in court papers that her harassment came from prison officials, who forced her to dress and behave like a man.

“This is a great example for those who feel discriminated against, to embrace who they are and keep trying. I don’t think, as an individual, we have to prove to anyone our worth, but we should allow the broader community to see that acceptance allows performance,” Hildebrandt said.

The court heard that on December 7 last year, after a confrontation with a prison head, September tried to commit suicide. 

The case is still ongoing.

But it has been a year for transgenders to claim victory. Andre Taylor, 28, of Gugulethu, said she was forced to resign after being ordered to stop using the female bathroom at her company.

She then took it to the CCMA. In Taylor’s affidavit, she accused the head of human resources at the company of “misgendering” her.

She won the case.

Keval Harie, the director of the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Trust (Gala), said: “It’s been an important and remarkable year for the community all over the world. Most significant is the legal victory in India which decriminalises the sodomy laws. For Gala in SA, we launched the Kewpie exhibition and are looking forward to 2019 when we will ensure that the Hate Crimes Bill is passed by Parliament.”

@MarvinCharles17

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