WINDHOEK - Namibian immigration authorities are facing one of their sternest tests yet, after a group of Sweden-based Namibian transmen applied for a change in their gender statuses from female to male on their identity documents. One of the transmen, Safira Eiseb, plans to bring ‘his’ Swedish wife and their twin kids to Namibia towards the end of this year but it is feared his current national identity documents - and his own views on them - could present problems for his entry into the country. Also, Namibia does not accept dual citizenship for its citizens. Safira, whose surname was Eises until ‘he’ changed it to Eiseb after his medical transition in Sweden, was born a girl and grew up in the Katutura area of Dolam, according to those in the know. This bottleneck is being handled by Out-Right Namibia, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights advocacy body. “We are engaging lawyers to help us with expert opinion on the matter and to advise us how best we can approach the matter,” Out-Right Namibia Director Linda Baumann told New Era yesterday. Eiseb, who is now known as ‘Silver’ in the LGBT community, considers himself male although – New Era understands – no changes were made to his genitalia during the medical transition process. Through Out-Right Namibia, he is trying to convince the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to change his sex status from female to male on his identity documents. New Era understands that the ministry is convinced that Eiseb is still biologically female and her status should appear as such on his documents. “Silver wants his female status to be changed to male on the documents. His physical appearance and expression are masculine, so there shouldn’t be a problem complying with his demands,” Baumann said. “He does not want to be body-searched by females at the airport checkpoints because he is a transman. His rights and dignity have to be respected. “Many Namibians, including top executives, have transitioned without anyone noticing. So it’s not a new thing. It’s not about what is between your legs. The transition doesn’t always mean the removal of genitals - It’s a psychological belief,” the Out-Right boss said. Eiseb’s medical transition documents have been sent to Namibia to accompany his application to Home Affairs and Immigration, Baumann said. He got married to a Swedish woman five years ago and the couple have twins that they intend to bring to Namibia later this year. The Swedish woman carries the Eises surname. The Eiseb matter could become a landmark case, which could shape the future of the Namibian immigration system. Out-Right Namibia says it is representing more people with similar dilemmas, with two more people in Sweden also enlisting the organisation’s services. “We also have two people based in South Africa, who have a similar situation. Here locally, we have a number of more transgender people also seeking our help,” Baumann said. Some transgender people do not wish to change their sex status on their national identity documents, while others do. The fragmentation of opinions among transgender people, on whether to alter the sex status on identity documents or not, could complicate the mission of convincing government on the matter. Human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe has described the situation as “complicated”. “I am of the opinion that parliament should pass a law which allows transgender persons, who have undergone medical or surgical gender realignment to apply to have the sex description altered on their birth record,” he said. “This will obviously involve a certificate of a relevant medical practitioner confirming that a person has in fact undergone medical or surgical treatment,” Tjombe said, but citing ethical complications of his suggestion. No comment could be obtained from the ministry of home affairs.
New Era Reporter
2015-04-15 09:56:04 4 years ago