Transphobia is not something that just happens because of heteronormativity. As we gradually make our way through the end of the first decade of the 21st century this much becomes clear; homonormativity is just as virulent as its sibling. A scenario between two South African activists -one a transsexual man and the other, a lesbian- during which the lesbian activist said, “once born a woman you will die a woman” and admits to saying so is typical of transphobic slur. The difference here is she admitted to casting the aspersion. Usually you are met with a barrage of denials which is symptomatic of bully cultures. The problem we face now is whether we like it or not, this is happing in our communities.
In the UK the situation is no better. Early this morning, I was mis-gendered by a gay man on a bus journey. I ignored his slight but he continued sucking up to his female friend. When I was about to get off he followed me and deliberately swung his bag striking my bottom and apologised. I let it go again, but I was furiously upset by these actions. At the height of his hypocrisy, even after apologising, he turned back to his female friend laughing out loud and said, ‘didn’t I tell you he‘s a man?’ and his transphobia was shamefully without doubt. I discovered from this experience is that its time we exposed the LGB’s rank double standards and advocate for proactive empowerment of the TI position in societies worldwide. A gay man or any other man groping a transsexual woman to gain the friendship of a straight woman suffers first from transphobia but also internalised homophobia and vice versa for a lesbian, heterosexual or bisexual woman who acts conversely. Sexuality, gender identity or any other identity and the inevitable phobia that occur are all pugnacious and must be fought against with equal commitment.
Statement my Gender Dynamix – Transgender community face hate speech from Lesbian and Gay people.
19 October 2010 Cape Town- Transgender people face an array of challenges in their lives ranging from discrimination to violence. Like Lesbian Gay and other minority people face torture, rape and abuse by outside communities and very often their own.
Over the last five years, transgender activists in Africa have made significant steps to create an understanding of the transgender community and one of the first approaches have been to sensitise the LGBTI sector. The impact has been felt but there is need to exert more effort in these ventures.There has been talk by Lesbian and Gay orginisations who pose themselves as LGBTI to adress the ignorance and gaps that exist between the “LGB” and the “TI” but the Transgender community continues to suffer predjudice at the hands of their Lesbian and Gay brothers and sisters.
There is a belief that the concept of Transgender is merely a form of homosexuality. Lesbian and Gay people most often feel disbelief about the identities of Transgender people and treat them with the same disregard that heteronormative people treat Lesbian and Gay people.
It is most shocking when a fellow activist from a LGBTI group puts on the mantle of oppression from a gender oppressive society and uses it in turn to scorn transgender people.
Tebogo Nkoana is the outreach officer at South African Transgender Orginisation Gender DynamiX. During his work in isolated areas he often finds allies in lesbian and gay people. He extends his outreach beyond the scope of Transgender and tries to find resources and shares information with them to empower them too. Sometimes they turn on him, as experienced in the last days. An activist from Mpumalanga recently sent him and email with the words “if you were born a woman you will die a woman”.
Interestingly enough when confronted she admitted that she had not realised that it was him, a supposed ally. This might be an isolated event by an individual but it is an excellent illustration of what Transgender people face from their Lesbain and Gay brothers and sister on a continuum.
The desire to control other people’s bodies and the meaning of their bodies is nothing new. One of its facets is heteronormativity. The role of men is to dominate and penetrate women. Women have to go back to the kitchen and the mattress. Its main objective is to control and use women as pawns. Women should not control their own bodies. That expertise does not fall exclusively in men’s domain. The above event is a good illustration of how the oppressed will attempt to opress the even more oppresed, eminating it’s own enemy so to speak It’s hypocritical for lesbian and gay people to advocate about homophobia in the mainstream society yet when the gaze turns back to their own, they become a critical cog in this oppressive machinery.
“I urge all people of reason to dissociate themselves from a person like this and quarters that entertain oprresive school of thought. We urge people to not associate with individuals or orginisations who commit any form of Transphobia. The social justice movement needs to set precedent to discourage marginalisation and oppression of the transgender community and create transgender inclusive environment and practices.” Says Tebogo Nkoana outreach officer at Gender DynamiX — Cape Town