Jacqui Louw, who was once a man, is embroiled in a legal battle with home affairs to obtain an ID document reflecting that she is now a woman.
Jacqui Louw, who was once a man, is embroiled in a legal battle with home affairs to obtain an ID document reflecting that she is now a woman.

ID crisis after sex change ends in court

Time of article published May 10, 2012

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ZELDA VENTER

High Court Reporter

THE DREAM of a woman from Durbanville in Cape Town – who was once a man – is to hold her new birth certificate and identity document (ID) in her hand, reflecting her new sex.

Jacqui Louw desperately needs these documents so she can travel to America to cross the last hurdle – voice surgery – in her quest to be a true woman.

The new documents will also make life a lot easier for this 41-year-old redhead, as she is no longer a man as reflected on her identity documents.

She cannot travel as she cannot get a passport.

Neither can she get a job, as she cannot prove her true identity.

Fed up after a two-year struggle with the Department of Home Affairs, Louw obtained a Pretoria High Court order last week compelling the department to consider her application within 30 days to have her birth certificate and ID altered to show her new sex.

But Louw told the Pretoria News yesterday she did not hold much hope of having these documents soon.

The department immediately responded following the order and met her at its office in Belville yesterday, but Louw was faced with another problem.

“They told me they had mislaid my original documents and that I had to apply again for these documents.” Louw again filled in the forms, had her fingerprints taken and went through the formalities.

But her hopes of receiving her new documents as ordered by the court have been dashed.

“They could not give me a new birth certificate and said I will only receive a temporary ID book in about four weeks, if I am lucky.

“I was also told it may take up to a year before I will have my new ID book. By the time all this is over I will be an old woman.”

However, Louw will not let the matter rest. “I have spent all the money I have saved to go to America to pay for the court application.

“Enough is enough.

“I will go back to court for a contempt order if the department does not give me my documents within 30 days.”

Louw said she has undergone the necessary medical procedures to change her sex from male to female.

“The decision to do so was not taken frivolously. I had truly been the proverbial woman trapped in a man’s body.

“I suffered great emotional strain because of the outward appearance of a male, while feeling like a woman on the inside.”

Medical procedures performed to change her appearance included breast augmentation, hormone therapy and surgery to construct a female genital organ. All these made her body physically female.

All these procedures were finalised before she applied in June 2010 for an alteration of her sex description on her ID book and birth certificate.

Louw also submitted all the medical reports of the procedures carried out, which made her a woman.

Until she turned to the court she had heard nothing from Home Affairs regarding her application, despite making numerous enquiries.

“I have since endured many tribulations due to the sex description on my official documents stating I am male, while physically I am female.

“I have lost my job because of the discrepancy in my appearance and my description on my ID document.”

“I have been victimised, verbally abused and even detained during a roadblock because my driving licence shows I am a man, while I am in fact a woman.”

Louw said she is too afraid to drive around in case she is arrested at a roadblock and thrown into a male prison.

“When she drives, she takes her file with her medical history along.

“I cannot get a job and I cannot earn a living because of the incorrect sex description… I was supposed to fly to the US in February for an operation on my vocal cords, but this was not possible as I could not apply for a passport as a woman…

“The money I saved for this has since been wasted on living expenses and the court case.”

But Louw vowed to continue with her legal battle.

“I am not just fighting for myself, but also for others in my position.” At least 50 transgender cases await IDs, she said.

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