A transgender prisoner, being held at the Helderstroom Maximum Correctional Centre in Caledon, has turned to the Equality Court to compel the departments of Justice and Correctional Services to allow her to dress as a woman, even though she is in a male prison.

According to a report on the IoL site, Jade September, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years, submitted in her court papers that her harassment comes from prison officials, who force her to dress and behave like a man.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will appear in the Western Cape High Court, sitting as the Equality Court, this month and will argue that the prison system has singled her out, harassed and unfairly discriminated against her for expressing her gender identity, contrary to the Promotion of Equality and Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000.

Sonja Bornman, from LHR, said: ‘It is the duty of state to accommodate her where she currently is, in accordance with the principle of substantive equality – that is, equality in outcomes. Because there are no separate prisons for transgender or gender non-conforming people. In fact, as far as prison laws and policies are concerned, transgender people simply do not exist. This is unacceptable.’

The head at the Helderstroom Maximum Correctional Centre, Sivalingum Subramoney, said in responding papers: ‘I oppose the directions on the basis that the applicant’s transgender expression and differentiation as female in a male correctional centre would create an unimaginary security risk to the applicant.’

Full report on the IoL site