An unnamed 42-year-old transgender woman has had her bid to have her correct gender recognized by Fiji’s High Court rejected despite the country’s constitution stating that people must not be unfairly discriminated on the grounds of their gender identity.
Fiji became only the second country in the world to ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in 1997 but continued to prosecute sex between men until 2006.
A new constitution that was drafted in 2013 went further, stating, ‘A person must not be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly on the grounds of his or her … actual or supposed personal characteristics or circumstances, including race, culture, ethnic or social origin, color, place of origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, birth, primary language, economic or social or health status, disability, age, religion, conscience, marital status or pregnancy.’
However the Suva High Court dismissed an application by the woman who had sought court orders for her Fijian birth certificate to be corrected to state that she is now female after transitioning surgically and to have her gender as a woman legally recognized in Fiji.
The woman, who is now a New Zealand citizen, underwent several surgeries in Thailand in 2006 and has lived as a woman for at least the past nine years.
But the Suva High Court says that according to the birth certificate, the woman’s sex at birth is given as male and that it is not possible under Fijian law for that to change.
The Suva High Court says that sex reassignment after birth is not an error in a birth certificate and that Fiji’s office of Births, Deaths and Marriages has neither the power or authority to correct a birth certificate in that way.
The court also said that it did not recognize the existence of gender transition and declared the woman to be merely someone who had plastic surgery to artificially create female organs on a male body.
The court misgendered the woman during the case as did local media.