A transgender woman who is an inmate in a Caledon Prison has asked the Equality Court in Cape Town to order prison authorities to allow her to wear make-up and women’s underwear.
Jade September, an inmate at the Helderstroom Correctional Services, also wants the court to rule that she be allowed to grow her hair.
September was sentenced to 15 years in prison after she was convicted of stabbing Graham Flax (64) to death in Sea Point.
September, in her thirties, said in court papers: “I am not a gay man. I am a transgender woman.” She said she was being harassed and unreasonably discriminated against because she is transgender.
The head of the Helderstroom Correctional Services refused to treat her as a woman, she said, and she was not allowed to wear make-up or women’s underwear.
September said she was being “ordered or forced” to cut her hair. Prison staff also refused to speak to her as a woman and referred to her as “he” or “him”.
She asked the court to order prison authorities to return her confiscated make-up and underwear.
In the court papers she said she was raised by her grandparents.
“I never knew my father and my mother was a drug addict.”
At the age of nine her grandmother died and her grandfather remarried a woman with whom she did not get along.
“In addition, my grandfather could not accept my femininity which made me feel left out from a young age. He regarded it as homosexuality.
“I knew I was different and because adults accepted I was homosexual I initially thought so too.”
She said it was hard to see a man in the mirror.
“I felt complete on the inside, but not on the outside.”
She left home at 15 and met Alfred, a Swiss man. He was about 50.
They were lovers and he provided for her. She moved into his home in Claremont in Cape Town.
“Alfred wanted me to be gay and not transgender.”
She became addicted to drugs and the relationship ended in 2012 as a result.
She increasingly began living as a woman and started an online escort agency.
In respect of Flax’s murder, she said she met him through the online service in 2013. She spent a weekend with him for which he paid her only R20.
That was an insult “because he knew the terms of my service and simply decided to ignore it, as if I was nothing”.
She decided to rob him the next weekend and used drugs to scrape up enough courage to do so.
The next moment she was standing over him with a bloody knife and a bottle of whisky.
“I only wanted to rob him.”
Since being sent to prison, she has actively tried to get medical treatment for her transition.
She said the gender transition was critical as she “feels depressed, helpless and hopeless” because she is not “completely a woman”.
Her court application against the minister of justice and correctional services and the Helderstroom Correctional Services’ authorities will be heard later this month.