I feel so proud and over joyed to be writing this post today. In spite of the struggle against transphobia and homophobia two exciting ground breaking pieces of work are happening in Africa which celebrate Transgender lives on the continent. The first is the launch of Trans: Transgender Life Stories from South Africa – a collection of more than 20 life stories from the Transgender community. The project was made possible by the collaboration of Gender DynamiX and GALA South Africa and will be launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg on 20th [International Transgender Day of Rememberance] and 28th November respectively [the latter at Constitution Hill].
With more than twenty original voices from the trans community in South Africa, the book is a journal of shared experiences for trans people and a fascinating point of departure for interested members of the general public. The contributors who ‘transitioned, are transitioning or will transition’, have all been actively involved in the process of making the book and have a great deal to say about their personal experiences of being transgender today. Their illuminating and touching life stories are complemented by the extraordinary photographs by renowned photographer, Robert Hamblin.
Many of the stories collected here touch on the isolation that transgender people often feel in their communities. Transgender issues are a taboo subject for discussion, which are either ignored by the media, or covered in an invasive, insensitive and sensationalist way. The stories stress the need to provide accurate information, counter negative stereotypes, reduce discrimination, provide transgender people with honest representations of their lives, and offer visible, positive role models.
This book brings us all a small step closer to a future where no young transgender person in South Africa grows up in isolation and despair.
The book can be purchased from Kalahari Net
The second project dates back to last year’s historic gathering of African Transgender actvists organised by Gender DynamiX and IGLHRC in Cape Town. Portraits of some of the activists were drawn by cultural activist and artist Gabrielle Le Roux honouring their commitment to struggle and celebrating the joy of their lives. Activists came from Burundi, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Both these projects are such a beautiful dream for all of us who struggle for the freedom to live our lives in peace and to love as and who we wish. For more on the workshop see the article published in The Bonela Guardian on page 9.
One of the Trans activists Skipper Mogapi along side his portrait by Gabrielle.
This was a dream come true, seeing trans people together in their space raising their concerns without being intimidated. We know what the issues are and can now deal with them”