A Boksburg man who had a sex change operation has won his 27-year-long battle against the home affairs department and will be issued with a new identity document reflecting his new gender.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria this week gave the department 20 days to issue Stephen Lombard, 48, with a new identity book that correctly reflects his gender as male.
Lombard, who was born a female and has a 28-year-old son, underwent sexual reassignment procedures in 1988 because he never felt comfortable as a female. He is now in a life partnership with a female and is the father of two children.
He said in court papers that the department of home affairs was willing to change his name, but had refused to change his identity number and update his photograph to reflect that he was now a male.
He said he had been severely discriminated against on the basis of his gender and deprived of his basic human rights and dignity because of home affairs’ failure to issue him with an identity document reflecting he was a male.
He said he was accused of fraud and beaten up by officials when he tried to apply for a driver’s licence in Heidelberg because it was evident from his appearance that he was a male, but his identity document reflected he was a woman.
“The lack of a correct identity document affects my life on a daily basis as I cannot conduct basic transactions that require I produce my identity book, nor can I get basic services which other South African citizens have access to.
“I have been accused of fraud on numerous occasions … These experiences have been very humiliating and the situation I find myself in has made a great inroad on my right to dignity,” he said.
Lombard could not apply for access to housing, education and healthcare services, enter into business contracts, get insurance, apply for a driver’s licence or register for unemployment benefits.
Applying for a passport and visa to travel overseas had become impossible, he had been unable to vote in the elections for the past 27 years – and even conducting basic banking transactions such as opening a bank account required his “wife” to be present.