A new book published by Jacana Media takes the reader on a journey into the many worlds inhabited by transgender South Africans. The life stories recounted in this collection are both inspiring and compelling and reveal the courage and strength of each of the story tellers involved. The narratives detail the constant challenges of living in a country, that, despite its progressive constitution, is still host to myriad prejudices and misunderstandings when it comes to trans people.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Most people have the luxury of taking gender for granted; but for more and more people whose gender either challenges them or challenges others, gender is a wellspring of thought-provoking experience. The reflections on the experience of gender contained in this book will enrich readers’ understanding and deepen their awareness of the kind of very human quest that transgender people and those who love them have been undertaking for centuries.
‘These words and images tell of the pain they have suffered when others have shunned or disrespected them, and of the strength they have summoned so they can endure and thrive. Their silence is broken now, and transgender people the world over are letting their voices be heard. It is not a fearful thing; it is beautiful, spiritual; it is human. Listen! Their compassion is never far below the surface. Let it in! You will not regret it.’ (Jamison Green, author of Becoming a Visible Man)
TRANS: Transgender life stories from South Africa takes the reader on a journey into the many worlds inhabited by transgender South Africans. The life stories recounted in this collection are both inspiring and compelling and reveal the courage and strength of each of the story tellers involved. The narratives detail the constant challenges of living in a country, that, despite its progressive constitution, is still host to myriad prejudices and misunderstandings when it comes to trans people.
With more than twenty original voices from the trans community in South Africa, the book is a journal of shared experiences for trans people and a fascinating point of departure for interested members of the general public. The contributors who ‘transitioned, are transitioning or will transition’, have all been actively involved in the process of making the book and have a great deal to say about their personal experiences of being transgender today. Their illuminating and touching life stories are complemented by the extraordinary photographs by renowned photographer, Robert Hamblin.
Many of the stories collected here touch on the isolation that transgender people often feel in their communities. Transgender issues are a taboo subject for discussion, which are either ignored by the media, or covered in an invasive, insensitive and sensationalist way. The stories stress the need to provide accurate information, counter negative stereotypes, reduce discrimination, provide transgender people with honest representations of their lives, and offer visible, positive role models.
This book brings us all a small step closer to a future where no young transgender person in South Africa grows up in isolation and despair.
Published by Fanele (an imprint of Jacana Media), Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and Gender DynamiX, and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.
The book will be launched in Johannesburg, South Africa on 28 November 2009 at Constitution Hill.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Ruth Morgan is currently a freelance researcher and writer. She was the director of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) from 2002-2008. She has a PhD in linguistic anthropology from The American University, Washington D.C. Her work has focused on collecting and analysing life stories of LGBTI and Deaf people for the past twenty years.
Charl Marais is the secretary of the Gender Dynamix Board. Charl is a trans man and a journalist.
Joy Wellbeloved, known as ‘The Cat Lady’, is employed by her four cats. Retired from the IT industry, she spends her time reading, listening to classical music, and dreaming of taking stunning wildlife photographs. Joy is a trans woman who transitioned in 1985.
ABOUT GAY AND LESBIAN MEMORY IN ACTION (GALA)
Based at the University of the Witwatersrand, GALA believes that the advancement, development and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people depend on an accurate record and representation of their struggles. GALA aims to mobilise memory by documenting and popularising the lives and histories of LGBTI South Africans, to support the development of pride, challenge homophobia and trans-phobia, and to help entrench the rights of LGBTI people. GALA is at the forefront of stimulating new avenues of academic enquiry into sexuality and gender identity in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent. For more information contact Anthony Manion.
ABOUT GENDER DYNAMIX
Gender DynamiX is a human rights organisation promoting freedom of expression of gender identity, focusing on transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming identities. Gender DynamiX is currently the only registered organisation in Africa which specifically advocates for transgender individuals, and aims to increase awareness and visibility of transgenderism in South Africa. For more information contact Liesl Theron.
* TRANS: Transgender life stories from South Africa (EAN/ISBN-13: 978-1-920196-22-6) is published by Jacana Media.
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