A woman who was allegedly kicked out of a shelter Johannesburg shelter due to her transgendered identity‚ and is now destitute‚ may sue the Department of Social Development for her psychological trauma.
The woman‚ who is being represented by organisation Iranti-Org‚ said she was evicted from a Braamfontein women’s shelter after overhearing a conversation between its staff members about her future there.
“Having laid a formal grievance with the organisation relating to the discussion around her identity and invasion of privacy‚ the victim was given a meeting time which was subsequently cancelled and thereafter was faced with accusations of inappropriate behaviour within the shelter space‚” Iranti-Org said in a statement.
The woman‚ whose identity is protected as she falls into a vulnerable class of persons in South Africa‚ was allegedly instructed to leave the shelter on February 7.
“The woman was provided with no safe alternative accommodation within the Johannesburg area. It has been alleged through correspondence from the Department of Community Safety that on the advice of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)‚ they evicted the victim ‘based on gender as our shelter is for women’.
“We will continue to work toward finding safe and secure accommodation for the victim in question‚ who has been destitute for 16 days and counting.”
Spokesperson for the CGE Javu Baloyi said the matter was still under investigation.
“In essence‚ the allegations are under investigation and it is important to stress that the matters raised by Iranti-org through social media remain ‘allegations’ until proven otherwise‚” the CGE said in a statement earlier this month.
“The CGE is committed to protecting the rights of LGBTIQA communities as the law requires‚ and as such‚ the matter regarding [the] shelter is no different in that it will receive [the] same amount of attention as other cases.”
The woman and Iranti-Org are demanding an apology from all the parties involved and are considering seeking damages from the Department of Social Development for the woman’s “mistreatment‚ apparent discrimination and psychological trauma”.
“We note with sadness the constant and consistent misgendering of this woman by members of the shelter‚ the Victim Empowerment Programme and the Department of Social Development in our email correspondence with these parties dating back to our first interaction with the victim‚” Iranti-Org said.
It added that its correspondence with government departments showed a lack of respect for‚ and understanding of‚ the issues facing transgender and gender-diverse South Africans. It called for sensitivity training for civil servants in dealing with such cases.
The Gauteng departments of Social Development and Community Safety have been approached for comment.