A large group of mostly transgender women cheered after Western Cape high court judge Chantel Fortuin ordered The Correctional Services Department to allow transgender inmate, Jade September to freely express her gender in Prison.
Jade September, a transgender woman sex worker, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Cape Town Regional Court in 2013 after murdering her client and stealing a car.
Since her conviction, September has been fighting for her rights to be recognised as a transgender woman whilst in prison. Prison officials had systematically refused to allow her to express her gender in prison by wearing women’s underwear, make-up, having her hair in feminine styles and being referred to by her preferred pronoun.
In handing judgement, judge Fortuin said,
She is prevented from expressing her identity. Conduct which is part of her experience of being human is being condemned. She is being denied the personal freedom to develop and express her true nature, therefore her dignity is being impacted on severely by the conduct of the respondents.
September will now be able to enjoy her gender rights and the alternative to have her transferred to a single cell at a female prison.
September will be allowed to wear make-up and jewellery, wear her hair in styles that affirm her gender and she will be addressed by her female pronoun.
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