Court hears arguments on transgender inmate
Should the Equality Court rule in favour of a transgender prisoner to express her gender identity as a female in a male facility, then the Standing Order in prison should be sent back to the Minister for review.
A Cape Argus report says yesterday marked day two of arguments in the Western Cape High Court, sitting as the Equality Court, with transgender prisoner Jade September challenging authorities and accusing prison heads of discriminating against her by not allowing her to wear her hair long, wearing make-up and jewellery or female underwear.
While incarcerated at the Helderstroom Maximum Correctional Centre, in Caledon, September said she was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment from prison officials, and at one stage placed in segregated confinement for 17 days in 2016.
This was after she defied officials and expressed her gender.
In responding arguments, the state’s Advocate Karrishi Pillay said in terms of the legal framework, September was male.
‘The applicant’s treatment, while incarcerated, has been consistent with that of the males: there has been no unfair discrimination.’
Pillay argued that transgender requirements placed September in a high risk category in Helderstroom prison, which has a male population of about 770 inmates, most serving multiple sentences for violent crimes.
September’s lawyer, Advocate Nicole Lewis, argued one did not need to undergo surgical transition to be defined as transgender.
It had to do with gender identification.
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