S.H.E. Press Release on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa celebrates the international trans day of remembrance. This day has significance for transgender and gender non-conforming people all over the world, a day in which we remember and celebrate the lives lost to violence on account of people’s gender identity.

As a collective working to advance the rights of transgender women, we are all too familiar with the violence targetting transgender women. This year has seen a rise in the violence targetted to transgender women. This year, Social, Health and Empowerment conducted a research initiative, The Transilience Project on violence against transgender women in South Africa, with support from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commision. Preliminary findings indicate that most trans women have suffered some of violence, although the report will be released later this year.

Trans women on the African continent generally suffer a number of human rights violations ranging from physical violence, to employment discrimination, to institutional violence, arbitrary arrests and restrictions on travelling. This is particularly true for trans women in other African States. The infamous Ugandan anti-homosexuality Act led to an increase in violence towards transgender people. Though the Act was struck down, it has not changed the community violence targetting transgender people.

We continue to do advocacy for transgender women and we celebrate even the small victories. One such victory is the healthcare access created for transgender people in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. After two years of struggling and a one year legal battle of collaboration between S.H.E and the South African Commission on Gender Equality, the Cecilia Makhiwane Hospital have provided psychological support services to the first transgender clients in the month of October 2014. One transgender woman have already been referred for and received hormone treatment. This is a tremendous achievement for transgender people in the Eastern Cape Province.

We continue to challenge the implementation of the Amendment of Sex Description Act 49 of 2003. In a recent case, South African transgender woman Nadia Swanepoel went on a five day hunger strike in protest against the Department of Home Affairs failing to provide her with an amended ID document which reflects her preferred gender identity. Though Nadia succeeded in getting her ID document with the changes she sought, our thoughts lie with the scores of South African transgender people who have applied for gender amendment and whose applications have not moved forward, those who are essentially “stuck” in the system.

On this International Trans Day of Remembrance, we ask African leaders to take the actions necessary to ensure the protection of human rights of transgender people from all corners of the African continent. We appeal to African leaders to ensure that transgender women feature in all development initiatives and that our issue is placed on the national, regional and continental agenda.

We celebrate the small victories while we continue to advance the human rights of African transgender women.

For more information, contact:
L. Leigh Ann van der Merwe
, S.H.E Coordinator

Office number: +27(0) 43 7220750 Mobile: +27(0) 73 8110789

Email: transfeminists@gmail.com