Durban - For 26 years, a young Phoenix woman has had to bear the brunt of being incorrectly listed as a man, impacting on her identity, bank accounts and work opportunities.
Roxanne Naidoo, 26, has described her life as a nightmare, and says attempts to have her birth certificate bungle rectified with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had repeatedly failed. To add to her woes, she alleged she was insulted by Home Affairs officials last year when she was told she should have medical tests done to confirm her gender.
“Home Affairs made an incorrect entry when I was born and listed me as male. “My mother, who is now deceased, spent most of her life trying to sort out the mess, but officials haven’t been of any help,” said Naidoo.
She said accounts affiliated to her Identity (ID) number had also become a subject of fraud due to the bungle.
“The bank won’t even allow me to access my own funds. I have applied on numerous occasions to have the gender mix-up rectified and I am always given the run-around. “I cannot vote, I am at risk of being fired and I have bad credit due to the fact that I have apparently taken out accounts on my name that I am unaware of,” said Naidoo.
She said she was unable to use her ID to open up accounts as she is always suspected of trying to commit fraud. “They look at me and see that my ID doesn’t match because I am female. Last year, an official at Home Affairs asked that I have a gender test done. This was such an embarrassment. Once I provided them with an examination certificate, I was told that I needed to produce birth records. I went to my birth hospital and was told that they discard the records after 10 years,” said Naidoo.
She said she advised Home Affairs of this and was asked to produce affidavits from her parents. “My mother is dead, and my father has been estranged for most of my life. I don’t even know where he is. It has been a year since I last applied for the gender change and still haven’t received feedback,” said Naidoo. She said she could not even get married because it would be considered a gay marriage, if she did. “I feel like an alien. I have missed a lot of opportunities in my life because of this mess. People look at me weirdly and think that I am transgender when I present my ID to them. I really am helpless,” said Naidoo.
DA MP Haniff Hoosen – who has been assisting Naidoo with her case – said he had reported the matter to senior DHA officials, and was given assurances that it would be resolved soon. “Her case speaks to the massive inefficiencies that exists at Home Affairs that it actually took 26 years for Roxanne to get help from the department,” said Hoosen. DHA spokesperson David Hlabane acknowledged a query sent by the Herald but did not respond to questions at the time of going to press what the department would do to assist Naidoo.