The Joys Of Being Trans In SA

Christina Engela's picture

I went to renew my driver's license today. Oh, you have no idea. It was an adventure. Funny, you would think that once you were found competent enough to drive a car or own a gun, and not having any serious misdemeanors logged against your name - that you wouldn't need to keep reapplying for various permits? It is an interesting innovation in South Africa, figuring a way to make people pay for the same damn thing over and over again - and paying more each time. What fun.



So off to the merry traffic department I went.



First, there were no pens on the counters - that's right, none. I asked the lady at inquiries for a pen, and she acted as if I were crazy for not somehow psychically knowing I should have brought my own! Wow. So what now? I was told to ask one of the "car guards" outside for a pen. I did - it cost me three times the price at CNA for an ordinary cheap yellow Bic pen - and the f****r had the cheek to still ask me for "loose change" on top of that.



Right, so off to the queue for my eye-test. I sat there for an hour, shifting my ass on the hard wood seat every time someone moved up a space. So I went through the whole testing, fingerprinting, photographic session, showed my ID book (with new female number) and my driver's license card (with old male number), and no problems. I was so glad to be out of that - only to be faced with yet another queue to pay at the cashiers. People were arguing with each other about folks who left the queue and just wanted to squeeze back in again - Africa style. Hillarious.



So finally, another hour later, I got to the cashier to pay my 198 Zar for renewing my driving license. "Driver's license please", the guy says. I hand it over, and whoops - instant problem, a red flag goes up. After my final surgery in 2006, my ID number had been changed, suddenly my current license (not yet expired) "never existed". So you could say that for the past 4.7 years I have been driving without a license! How cool is that? So I hand over my ID book which has my new ID number in, and try to clear up the matter without splashing my pedigree all over the waiting room. Good luck with that, I hear you thinking. Right.



Funny enough, as far as I know, the national database the government uses still keeps my old ID number along with my new one. In fact, Iv'e seen it on the screen when I go to the bank for example - so I know my transgender "freak" status will probably never ever go away. So why is it that every time I am faced with some relic of the bullshit life I left behind I have to still produce copies of my old ID book, my letters of this or that from doctors, nurses, former pets and bloody Home Affairs who couldn't find their own asses without an atlas? *sighs* I wonder if anyone "at the top" of the food chain f*****g thought past the ends of their dicks when they made the policies affecting changes in the population register for trangender people? It makes me wonder whether my firearm licenses (I have 2 of them) with my old ID number on, are just as "invalid" as my driver's license? Hmmm. Perhaps I should use them to rob a bank, and drive my getaway car away illegally and see if they can pin any of it to my new identity? Oh, wait - I forgot - loopholes and omissions like that only ever suit them.


So what now? I have to take them a copy of the little love letter Home Affairs sent me with my amended birth certificate with my new ID number on it tomorrow... Hopefully there won't be any other little dramas to spoil my day further.



Ahh - the joys of being trans in sunny South Africa...


(Posted at Sour Grapes)

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