Sazi Jali

30 April 2020

Even though the South African constitution (Act No.108 of 1996) is the first in the world to expressly forbid discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation, including a guarantee of equality, it does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against people who are transgender.

This year 2020, South Africa is celebrating 26 years of freedom from the clutches of apartheid. It has been a long hard journey to reach this milestone that brought a mixture of pain and joy. While the massive is rejoicing 26 years, it is discouraging that there is minority that is partially celebrating 14 years of their freedom – Transgender people within the LGBTQ community is still experiencing discrimination and stigma. It is important to note that even though the LGBTI+ has won the battle in the eyes of the world but they are still struggling to get freedom from their own homes, workplaces and even from their own community.

This remarkable month in the South African calendar is also aligned with the International Health Awareness Month. This brings a question to some of us, where is this freedom that everyone is talking about, that everyone seem to be happy about. The answer to the question will remain mysterious even within the LGBTI+ community as some portion of the community has never tasted this freedom. Transgendered people are not regarded as the beneficiaries of freedom, even today they are still being discriminated and side lined. 

It saddened us as transgendered community that we cannot celebrated freedom like any other citizens. What is the meaning and the use of Acts and Laws if they are not implemented? Even today transgender community has difficulty accessing health services not to mention access to job opportunities. We are being judged and discriminated merely based on how we are dressing without being given opportunity based on our merit qualifications. Are we not South Africans enough? Do we not belong in South Africa? For how long are we going to seek for this freedom?

All we are asking is acceptance and love, we want to be free like every other person. We want to have access to health services without being stigmatized, we want to be free in our workplaces without discrimination.