By Betesta and Simangele Mzizi -
As the transgender movement rises in Africa, with society struggling to understand the dynamics of transgenderism, Gender Dynamix and Support Initiative for People with atypical Sex Development (SIPD), recently hosted a film workshop which saw African trangender and intersex people compiling a DVD, telling their powerful stories and projecting their identities with their own words, imagery and lenses.
From Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, participants gave faces behind the topic of transgenderism which still appears to be complicated within the LGBI community and less understood by the general society.
Due to the fact that in Africa, transgender is a complex and new topic to LGBTI movements, and that precise and harmonious definitions have not been reached, it is hoped that the DVD, titled Exquisite Gender, the DVD for transgender and intersex people of Africa, will open minds and make people in Africa and abroad know more about transgenderism.
Some of the participants were Tingy, a trans woman from Namibia, whose story was based on the violence she incurred from her country due to her gender identity. “The scars remind me of the struggle I had to go through for being me, these scars make me fearless and to stand up for myself ” Tingy said.
Themba Nkosi is a trans man from South Africa, his story was based on freedom. In South Africa homosexuality is legal but still the LGBTI community is not free. How can transgender people be free while there are people who are killed and raped because of their sexuality?’ were some of the statements that Nkosi made in his story.
A trans man from Zambia, Chanda Mubanga’s story was about silence, how it makes everyone happy while coming out results in rejection and isolation. “It’s high time that now we speak out to create awareness to trans people who still have fear of coming out to their families”, Mubanga said.
Betesta, a trans man from Botswana spoke about the challenges of coming out as trans person. “It is difficult to accept your being as a person from the beginning, as much as an individual took time to understand his or her sexuality. It is also difficult even to the LGB community and society in general to understand trans issues or real meaning of transgender. As an activist I am going to stand up for trans community in Africa, sensitize people about our issues so that they can learn.”
According to Gender DynamiX, Many gender variant people in Africa use many different words to describe who they are and have only recently adopted the term transgender.
“Often, to know how African gender variant person identifies, one has to ask them and often the responses given differ from the identities bracketed in transgender term or the general “lesbian” and “gay” labels.”
“A number of variant people in East Africa for example, have attempted to represent what they feel is a correlation between their gender identity and their sexual orientation, and have used the term ‘trans lesbians’ in order to identify themselves, showing clearly that there is a distinguish between the two”, Gender Dynamix explained.
To get a copy of the DVD email: firstname.lastname@example.org. It costs R100.