Botswana to recognize transgender woman’s identity for first time, will issue new ID card

Indigenous people in Botswana.

The nation of Botswana will legally recognize the identity of a transgender woman, following a court ruling that will also see her awarded a new identity card that indicates she is a female.

Tshepo Ricki Kgositau has identified as a woman since she was young, and underwent a four-year legal battle for the government to recognize her as female. The Botswana High Court sided with Kgositau, and will issue her a new ID card before the end of the year, according to The Independent.

The Republic of Botswana in Southern Africa has a population of about 2.3 million people.

Previously, in November, the high court also ruled that the government should recognize the gender of a transgender male. The same right did not extend to women, however, until Kgositau’s victory in court.

LGBT advocates see the win as a step toward change in Botswana, where transgender people cannot legally change their gender identity from their birth gender. The government also bars same-sex sexual activity.

The court did, however, overturn a government ban on a gay rights lobbying group in 2014. The decision allowed LGBT citizens in Botswana to officially register their cause and campaign for legal reform.

Kgositau, 30, underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand in December of 2016. She said the inability to have the government officially recognize her gender caused emotional distress and made her a target for abuse and violence.

“I feel truly blessed to be living in such times of the change I have wanted to see since I was a little girl,” she said.