From the Sunday Tribune of South Africa:
There is nothing manly about 36-year-old Durban mother Denise Abbah. She is quite pleasant and no one in their right mind would suggest she looks like a man.The saddest thing about this?
Yet she was thrown into a men's prison cell for seven months, which resulted in her being raped and sodomised, she claims.
Now, six years after her release, Abbah wants revenge.
"I have been in hiding. My life has been turned upside down. I cannot go anywhere without people picking on me, calling me a man," says the Durban mother of five.
Abbah's alleged torture began in September 2002 when she was sent to jail to await trial for armed robbery, attempted murder and hijacking - she was later acquitted on these charges.
On the day of her arrest, Abbah says, prison authorities registered her as Denis instead of Denise and locked her in a cell with transvestites and male prisoners, where she claims she was raped and sodomised.
Even though she protested against the cell arrangement, she said her pleas fell on deaf ears.
"They just refused to believe that I was a woman. They thought I was a man who had undergone a sex change. I told them about my children at home, but it didn't help.
"When I told the female wardens that I was menstruating, they refused to believe me, saying the bleeding was a result of the sex change operation that I had," said Abbah.
"I will never be able to forget the trauma, torture and ridicule. I was made a laughing stock and everywhere I went people questioned whether I was a man or a woman," she said.
Abbah said it was time to get justice for what she had been through.
"My life was turned upside down when this happened. Everybody started reacting negatively towards me. My family disowned me because of what happened in prison.
"My father doesn't want to have anything to do with me and my mother died due to the harassment and stress this issue has brought on our family.
"I even tried to take my own life while I was in prison, but then I had to think about my children.
"Apart from them and my husband, I have nothing else to live for," says Abbah.
Abbah is expected to undergo gender testing ahead of her legal battle against the Department of Correctional Services.To prove that her treatment was not acceptable, you see. As it would be for me if I was arrested for something I didn't do. Because I'm not cis-sexual, like her.
If you don't think that this is a big issue to you, because you're neither TS or IS... that might not save you. And if you think the consequences to her family life were bad, remember that for TS and IS people, this the norm. We're too used to it, too accepting that that's the way things are for us. It's sometimes difficult realising that others have different expectations. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I've lost nothing, and objectively, in comparison with this woman and with very few exceptions, all Trans women I know, I am.
I've never been cis-sexual. So it takes me some effort to comprehend that for most people, such a thing would be considered an appalling violation of human rights, rather than something usual. And that, more than anything else, illustrates the concept of "cis-sexual privilege".
As you can see though, it doesn't take much to revoke your "Human Being" license. A clerical mistake omitting a single letter in your name can be enough. Perhaps, and this is just a suggestion mind you, it might be in your best interests to see that TS and IS people, not just "people like you", don't get treated this way, hmm? Just a thought.
UPDATE : More at News24, The Sowetan and The Mercury :
But the department of correctional services said the matter was struck off the roll in September last year. Spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said there was no case pending against the department lodged by Wilson.
"The case was struck off the roll and there have been no new papers that have been served on us," he said.