CCMA agrees to hear transgender woman's toilet-ban case


The North Carolina law passed -- requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate -- has triggered a national outcry.

JOHANNESBURG – A transgender woman who was prevented from accessing female toilets at work has won the right for her case to be heard at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Andre Taylor, 28, from Gugulethu, said she was traumatised when told by human resources to stop using the toilets.

Gender activist Kalo Canterbury condemned the act by the company, saying that this kind of discrimination should not be allowed.

"It’s transgender discrimination... that affects the whole LGBT community,” said Canterbury.

Taylor said she was told to be a man when she identified as female by Merchants SA, a Dimension Data company.

She says Merchants SA misgendered her.

"HR asked me, Andre do you use the ladies toilet? I said yes, I do. I have been using the ladies toilet since day one and I started here five months ago,” she said.

“And she [the HR person] told me that there have been complaints from some of my female colleagues that I had been using the toilet... She said outside of work, you can be whatever you want to be, but here we are going to recognise you as male. She asked me, what genitals do you have? Do you have a penis or a vagina. They said they would update my gender at all the systems in work to the correct one, meaning they going to switch it from female to male.”

Taylor says the incident has left her traumatised with suicidal thoughts.

In submissions to the CCMA, the company dismissed the allegations and claimed that the alleged discrimination was not brought to their attention before Taylor resigned.

However one NGO says misgendering is a common problem in workplaces.

READ: Transgender woman becomes world&39;s first to breastfeed

"Believe it or not, HR practitioners in South Africa are still woefully behind when it comes to dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex issues,” said Matthew Clayton of Triangle Project.

“That’s why we reach out to companies all the time. We will be reaching out to Dimension Data about this as well as to make sure that all their HR practitioners across all of their companies are up to speed in making sure they are creating an affirming place for trans people, in particular."