feminist. transexual

All posts tagged feminist. transexual

S.H.E Feminist Internship, 1st quarter 2015

Published December 11, 2014 by transfeminists

Friends, colleagues and supporters

It has been a while! We are writing with exciting news for 2015. S.H.E is offering a feminist internship during 2015. Please click on the words (link) below to access the call and remember to get your application in on time.

Call for 2015 feminist internship

Till next time!

Boys do cry……………….!

Published February 5, 2013 by transfeminists

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters. It has been a while since you have read something from my pen (well…..my computer really..) and so I thought I might share with you an issue on which I have been pondering for a really long while.

First, let me welcome you all to 2013…….I have baptised this year as the year of infinite possibilities. I have a very positive feeling about this year and I do believe it will be a revolutionary year for trans feminist activism.

The year got off to a really positive start. We formalised ourselves a bit more at S.H.E and launched our website on the 17th of January 2013. This will be our mouthpiece in our communication with all our stakeholders. Please see our work at www.transfeminists.org and feel free to sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter, The Transfeminista!

In this piece I am writing about a very ironic issue, given my herstory as a transgender woman. Yes, you guessed right, I am addressing the issue of masculinity.

This is an issue on which I have pondered for a long while now. It is really ironic for me to write about masculinity, given that I have rejected the notion of masculinity with my transition from male to female. Not really so ironic looked at from a feminist perspective. The key word here is feminism…….that is my political identity.

OK, so back to the issue of masculinity. Why did I choose to write about masculinity and the construction thereof? Simple, I feel if we were to tackle patriarchy, the proverbial plucking of the root lies in examining masculinity and the construction thereof. There has to be an inquiry into the concept of masculinity and influencing change at that level. I feel our activism has been much centred upon women, females, femininity, proving to the world our strength as women…..tada tada tada. Fighting these inequalities, one has to be strategic, study those inequalities, dissect it, and construct an alternative ideology. It is on this premise that I base my argument. We have to examine masculinity as a concept, see how it is constructed and find ways of deconstructing it in order to shape “the man of tomorrow”.

So why am I rambling on about this topic of masculinity when all our resources (physical and mental energy included) should be focussed on improving the lives of women and sexual & gender minorities?(and all those pushed to the margins) Again, very simple, all the inequalities that we experience are very deeply rooted in patriarchy. There must also be an analysis of the link between patriarchy and masculinity, in other words,” my entitlement (patriarchy) because I am a man (masculinity)” conversation. The hate of transgender and intersex women has its roots in patriarchy. The idea that persons born with male genitalia (in the case of trans women) could reject masculinity is engendered from a very cultural, patriarchal, misogynistic view of the world and all in it. This is so accurately captured in the words of Ian McEwan:

“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”
― Ian McEwan

A lot of the time you will find a mother advocating for her son, regardless of his flaws. Many mothers acknowledge their sons are no angels and yet you will find the same mother defending her son’s position in whatever goes wrong in his life (OK, so sue of us for being inherently nurturing, compassionate beings!). I am pointing this out to highlight the collective responsibility that we have as women, and mothers, and sisters, and daughters to advocate for the construction of an alternative masculinity. One in which we say to men that it is OK to be equal with women, it will in no way affect you masculinity. A masculinity that is not so highly challenged that men feel they have to rape lesbians in order to “correct” them. A masculinity that will stop the war on women’s bodies. A masculinity where men don’t have the need to sit around talking about women as if they are only a collection of body parts. How many times have you heard: “ That girls has a fine ass” or “I’m turned on by big titties?”. These are not the only features to women’s bodies – it is just an objectification of women, one that is dripping with testosterone.

This is the one thing that all men have in common: trans men, cis-men, black men, white men, short men, tall men. Misogyny is not a reinforcement of your own masculinity, its simply adds to the inequalities that women (like your mother and sisters and daughters) have had to fight, and will still fight for years and years.

 

So what I propose: an alternative masculinity. The re-socialization of boys. Tell your boy its ok……….

to treat girls and women well

to express emotion

its ok to love

to work on self-development and self-improvement; and most of all……..

 

Boys do cry……………..

 

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
― Gloria Steinem

As usual dear friends, let us know what you think. Please engage with us on this blog, our website at www.transfeminists.org or drop me a line at coordinator@transfeminists.org

Until next time

au revoir

Leigh Ann

2012 in review S.H.E. Thank you to all of you for your kind support

Published January 7, 2013 by transfeminists

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Girls like us

Published October 30, 2012 by transfeminists

Good day friends and supporters of S.H.E

I am overjoyed at announcing the success of our strategic planning meeting in East London. I am working on the blog post for that meeting and you will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I am making the announcement that our executive have been put together in our board meeting before the strategic planning and is as follows:

Chairperson: Barbra Muruga, Nairobi, Kenya

Deputy Chair: Marion Stevens: Cape Town, South Africa

Treasurer: Busi Deyi, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Secretary: Revelation Xakoshe, Pretoria, South Africa

Congratulations to all and I am hoping for a long fruitful working relationship with you all. Our new chairperson, Barbra, has written a good analysis of what it means to be a transgender woman in Africa. For all who read our blog and would like to feature as a guest writer, please drop me a line at transfeminists@gmail.com and I will upload it onto our blog provided it is in line with our feminist agenda. Enjoy this read and do send us your comments.

Girls Like Us

 

I am a beautiful woman. I know that. People tell me that all the time. Men swoon over me numerous times. Women too. I’m getting used to it.

 

But its not easy being me. Girls like us have body issues. Its what they call gender dysphoria. You know, when you’re born with a brain that’s a different gender than your body. We know that changing the brain has been tried countless times with drastic results. But changing the body has bore many a good fruit.

 

African girls like us are not so lucky to get this though. They sail through life not even knowing what is wrong with them. They live miserable lives of mere existence. They just exist. Nothing more. The ones who are lucky enough to know what they are dealing with and get the courage to live their lives face constant hatred, backlash and sometimes violence. We struggle to be ourselves.

 

The one thing that is constant for all of us is; we don’t like our bodies. Especially if we are older. Everything just seems out of place. Like a broken mirror. No one looks at that and says, “wow, I like the reflection”. They simply give it a smirk and leave.

 

The ones who are lucky enough to live out as they are supposed to and actually ‘succeed’ (yes, we live in a patriarchal world that tells us how black and white must look like) have their own struggles. Yes, they are pretty, and smart, and get hit on a lot. But its not all rosy. We may look pretty on the outside, but we definitely still have issues with our bodies.

 

Dating for girls like us is a nightmare. You find someone you like and obviously the ‘sex’ question pops up at some point. The question we all dread. Most of us date straight men. Straight men have particular, usually simple, expectations. Simply put, they want ‘pussy’. We don’t have pussy to give. We have ‘other stuff’ ‘down there’. We hate that ‘stuff’. It completely kills the mood. All the time. Its even worse for those of us who don’t enjoy or have anal sex!

 

So whenever we are with a nice man, our minds are constantly wondering whether we look okay. Whether he can tell. Whether he can see our tiny bump on our necks. Whether they can notice our voices are a few decibels lower than most other girls. Whether they will ask for sex. Whether we can trust them enough to tell them. Whether they will tell others about us once we tell them. Whether they will do something to us if we tell them. So many questions. So many thoughts. Very little enjoyment of the moments.

 

Its our lives. Its who we are. And until we can afford those expensive surgeries that can only be got in a few places and require a whole deal of paperwork that we’d rather not endure, we will survive somehow. We slowly learn to love ourselves. We slowly get to like what we see in the mirror. Every compliment is a boost to our self esteem. Every smile we get for ours is a reminder that someone else likes us. And we can live.

 

We will survive.

Until next time

 

Leigh

 

So what is it with the make-up?

Published August 7, 2012 by transfeminists

The application of make-up to the face and a shield to the sould

Greetings dear friends of S.H.E, social, health and empowerment feminist collective of transgender and intersex women in Africa.

Wow, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Following a very hectic last week of training, we kick off this week with another morsel straight from the coordinators pen. In this piece of writing, I want to unpack the issue of make-up. Yes, make-up!!! As unusual a topic it would seem, this plays a big role in the lives of most transgender women I know and believe it or not………..the simple topic of make-up has gained sharp criticism for transgender women.

I’ve always got a little irritated with all the layers and layers of make-up transgender women tend to apply everyday. I apply make-up everyday, so i find it a little hypocritical when I get so annoyed at other trans women applying make-up and making themselves presentable to the world. For me, this presentation centers on one belief, the more the make-up, the bigger the affirmation of their female chosen gender. And this brings me to a burning question. Who decided that make-up and femininity are co-requisites? Well, I know women are programmed from a very young age to apply the foundation, add some colour to the eyes and top off with a nice colourful lipstick. Like most women, transgender women follow this almost religious regimen every morning. And so, when I applied my make-up one morning over the weekend, I thought of unpacking this issue of the context of womenhood, femininity and gender affirmation.

Acceptance of their gender is a top priority for most transgender women. But we tend to associate womenhood with red lipstick, hair extensions and high heels! This also speaks to the sexualization of transgender women. The higher the heel, the longer the extension and the brighter the lipstick, the bigger the sexual fetish around it. I meet gentlemen who question whether I am really trans because, apart from the little eyeliner and vanishing cream, I dont do red lipstick, bright nailpolish and I am particularly put off by weaves and hair extensions. All these things are not unique issues to trans women only. These are stereotypes perpetuated by everyday women, especially sex workers who “create” a “beautiful” concept and we play right into the hands of patriarchy becoming the visual, sexual stimulation sought by men. Without making the conversation too academic, basically we play into the vision men create for us!!!!

Taking men out of the spotlight and not blaming them for all we experience, my reflection on the single issue of make-up points me back to self confidence and security. As a set rule, I would never leave the house without make up, even to buy bread and milk at the corner cafe. For me, it comes back to the way that it makes me feel about myself because social programming has kicked in a long time ago to believe that a woman is no more than her red lips and blossy cheeks. Yes, even my brain is wrapped around that kind of thinking!

During this woman’s month of 2012, I want to encourage transgender and intersex women to explore the issue of make-up, hair and high heels in the context of social femininity. I want all the beautiful trans and intersex sister to realise that we be not defined by all this superficial stuff. No! I’m not saying take it all off. I just want you’ll to be cognisant that you are more than your hair. To the haters out there.

Transgender woman from Pretoria, South Africa

The next time you walk past a sister who slapped her mask on that morning, please stop going: “Girl, what happened to you, that is way too much”. Understand this comes from a place deep within, needing love, security and acceptance. It is an expression of individual identity. We all have that little something something that makes us unique and sets us apart from the rest. Eminem, the American rapper is known for his fowl lyrics, demeaning women in his songs and yet, his music is selling like hotcakes! Whitney Houston was killed by her drug habit and yet she was revered as a international musician. Now a sister wants to express her femininity and she gets sharp criticism from all corners, kinda hypocritical, isn’t it? In the same breath, I want to encourage fellow trans and intersex sisters with the words of India Arie from her song I am not my hair:

Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
Its time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off
Like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock
Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight
Like Oprah Winfrey
If its not what’s on your head

Its what’s underneath and say HEY…

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations no no
I am not my hair
I ma not this skin
I am a soul that lives within

Happy Women’s Month to all the transgender and intersex women around the globe.

Until next time

Leigh Ann and all the folks at S.H.E

S.H.E highlights from the People’s Health Assembly, hosted by the University of the Western Cape 6 to 12 July 2012

Published July 18, 2012 by transfeminists

It was such an honour meeting Zackie Achmat at the People’s Health Assembly in Cape Town 6 to 11

It was so nice to return to my alma mater UWC where the People’s Health Assembly took place 6 to 11 July 2012

 

This was just about the most interesting session at the People’s Health Assembly with a medical professional demonstrating the use of the Ipas, a tool used in surgical abortion

 

Hello world!

Published November 1, 2011 by transfeminists
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Dear colleagues/ friends/ allies/ donors/ supporters and family

It is with delight that we inform you of the establishment of a feminist forum that will advocate for transgender women at the feminist table. There is an increased need for advocacy around the issues that affect this vulnerable group. There are LGBTI feminist organisations, of which very few involve transgender women actively in programming and other issues. It is with this view in mind that I saw fit to make room for transgender women at the feminist table. We are hoping for this establishment to achieve the following:

–        Create visibility of transgender women in feminist circles;

–        To explore the social issues and barriers affecting transgender women within the communities in which they live;

–        To research the health issues affecting transgender women and advocate for safe and acceptable healthcare standards by working all relevant stakeholders in the provision of such service.

–        This forum will engage all relevant stakeholders in ensuring that transgender women claim their citizenship.

Our vision for this coalition of support:

To create visibility of transgender women in feminist circles. Taking an Anarcho-feminist approach to fighting patriarchal systems in Africa and creating a support and development network for transgender women in Africa.

 

We can only achieve this vision through one approach: by working with existing organisations to ensure that we can achieve this vision we set for ourselves. In forming links with existing organisations we can ensure that our partner organisations include transgender female-specific programming to ensure that we track, monitor and evaluate all aspects of life affecting transgender women.