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WPATH and Obama Push the Boulder. PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 July 2010

No to surgery – WPATH and Obama Push the Boulder.

During June The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released statements urging “governments and other authoritative bodies to move to eliminate requirements for identity recognition that require surgical procedures.”
The WPATH Board of Directors said that in the interest and well-being of transgender and transsexual people world-wide, no person should have to undergo surgery or accept sterilisation as a condition of gender recognition.
“If a sex marker is required on an identity document, that marker could recognise the person’s lived gender, regardless of reproductive capacity.”
The Board of Directors of WPATH also called for the de-psychopathologisation of gender variance world-wide and in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). The psychopathologisation of gender characteristics and identities makes prejudice and discrimination more likely, they say.
“The expression of gender characteristics, including identities, identities, which are not stereotypically associated with one’s assigned sex at birth is a common and culturally-diverse human phenomenon which should not be judged as inherently pathological or negative.”
The psychopathologisation of gender identities reinforces or can prompt stigma rendering transgender and transsexual people more vulnerable to social and legal marginalisation and exclusion, and increasing risks to mental and physical well-being.
“WPATH urges governmental and medical professional organisations to review their policies, and practices to eliminate stigma toward gender-variant people.” Says their release.
Transgender people are diagnosed with Gender identity Disorder in the DSM IV. In the DSM V, which has not yet been published, this diagnosis could change to Gender Incongruence. In South Africa, treatment can only be started once the transgender person is diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.  
Meanwhile, the USA has accepted standards and recommendations from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) regarding gender markers on passports. This means that gender surgery is no longer required for a transgender traveller in order to change their stated genders on US passports. The announcement was made by the State Department recently and was enthusiastically received by the National Centre for Transgender Equality.  
The State Department explained that a transgender person applying for a US passport will just need to show a doctor’s certificate stating that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” to declare a new gender on a passport. Under previous lesgislation the State Department would only change the sex on a passport if the person had completed Gender Reassignment.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality said this could mean anything from surgery for some and non-surgical care for others. “The previous policy put some transgender people in jeopardy when they travel through countries where changing genders is illegal and could be dangerous,” she said.
In South Africa, a transgender person first has to apply for a gender change on the ID document and driver’s licence and passport would follow automatically. No surgery is required but the transgender applicant has to show through letters from at least two doctors that the transgender person has undergone some treatment, whether it is psychotherapy, hormonal or some form of surgery.

Love Does Not Conquer All PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 July 2010

Love Does Not Conquer All

Love did not conquer all, Malawian Tiwonge Chimbalanga discovered after her imprisonment following a very public engagement to Steven Monjeza, and subsequent pardon by Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika.
The couple have split up, “due to pressure from their families and the homophobic society and laws”, and Steven recently announced that he will be marrying a genetic woman, Dorothy Gulo. The big shock, however, is the allegation by Steven that he was forced into what he termed the “gay drama”.
Tiwonge, or Aunty Tiwo, as she likes to be called, said that she was not particularly disappointed by this, and that her ex-fiancé has been pressurised by family to leave her and marry a “real” woman.
Meanwhile, Steven’s uncle, Khuliwa Dennis Monjeza, has threatened to “deal” with her if she set foot in their village as “same-sex marriage was alien and unheard of in our culture”.
Steven claims that he has “learnt his lesson” and wants “nothing to do with homosexuality”.
The gay newspaper, The pink Tongue, quoted Peter Thatchell, human rights campaigner of the gay rights group, Outrage!, in its June edition as saying that the pressure has got to Steven.
“It is a tragedy that homophobic threats and abuse have forced this couple apart... Both would be at risk of violent attack. Some people have threatened to kill them. I respect their decision to split,” he said.

Malawi LGBTI couple pardoned PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 June 2010

Steven and Auntie Tiwo pardoned

Under pressure from all over the world, including South Africa and the United Nations, Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has pardoned the “gay” couple who had been sentenced to 14 years hard labour. Tiwonga Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were arrested after celebrating their engagement publically in a traditional ceremony in December last year.

But it was a meeting with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, which tipped the scales, ensuring that the couple was released “on humanitarian grounds”, unconditionally.

“These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws. However, as the Head of State I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions,” President wa Mutharika said after his meeting with Ban Ki-moon at State House. He added that this did not mean he supported the couple.

President Jacob Zuma was one of the Heads of State who “condemned the action”. President Zuma was reported to have said that the government is “with you on this issue” both as representing the country and the continent. President Zuma added that the government is “working hard to change attitudes and will continue to do so”. The President went on to say that there was a need to “persuade, we need to make people understand, we need to move with them”.

President Zuma’s statement in parliament, in response to a question from an opposition party, was welcomed by LGBTI organisations. The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project encouraged the government to speak out “more unambiguously against homophobia and take robust measures in challenging its counterparts.” Not only does our Consitution require it to do so, the Equality Project added, but it would be a recognition of the human rights violations that occur against lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexual and intersex people (LGBTIs) in Africa and all over the world.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga self-identifies as a woman but, as Advocacy Manager Robert Hamblin of Gender DynamiX explains, “Gender variant identities are not acknowledged and just about any sexual minority is called gay or homosexual. This is because a person is assigned a gender based on their genitals, despite how they self-identify.”

He added that transgender people are assigned sexual preferences when they are probably not even looking at who they want to love or have sex with. “They are just struggling with their bodies and what the body means in society,” he said.
Support Group Spotlight PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 June 2010

Gender DynamiX is committed to a programme of support for all transgender people. To this end, they have set up support groups, including a parent support group for the parents of transgender people; a trans woman support group; and a safe space for masculine identified youth. SOFFA and trans men support groups are also on the cards.
Creating a safe space for masculine identified xx youths between the ages of 16 and 25 is the aim of the Siyahlangana support group run by Gender DynamiX Outreach Officer, Tebogo Nkoana.
Tebogo explained that Siyahlangana challenges some of the behaviour of butch lesbians and other masculine identified xx bodied youths - such as aggressiveness and alcohol and drug abuse.
“Male identified lesbians and trans men see such behaviour as proof of their masculinity. They tend to drop out of school as a result of their rough lifestyle.  At Siyahlangana we promote a healthy lifestyle and teach a way of earning respect from the broader community,” Tebogo said.
He added that at the meetings they talk about challenges experienced from peer groups, specifically looking into  gender concepts and challenging patriarchal behaviour.
In addition, Siyahlangana raises awareness around transgenderism and work towards creating a good relationship between lesbians and trans men by creating understanding and trying to breach the differences and sharing the commonalities.
The Siyahlangana group meets on the first Friday of each month at the GDX walk-in centre, Saartjie Baartman Centre, Klipfontein Road, Manenberg. Tebogo can be reached at 021-633 5287, ext. 2040.
'Boys will be boys and they want to talk about “rude” things. FTM's need a bit more encouragement to do so, i.e. talk about their bodies and things relating to treatment.  We need a Trans men’s Support Group",  says Robert Hamblin, Deputy Director of Gender DynamiX. "Hormone treatment brings about radical change in our bodies and personalities. Often that comes with anxiety. Sharing experiences with peers helps with this – and it’s free”, Robert said.
“Trans men need to have a network of men that understand the issues that an FTM goes through in the world, so that we can call one another when we are in trouble. We could also offer one another resources when planning to make our fortunes,” Robert added laughingly.
Contact Robert at Gender DynamiX on email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or send an sms to Robert at 083 226 4683.
The Trans women’s Support Group was started because there is a specific need for trans women to share experiences, explains Caroline Bowley. “There are issues specific to Trans women which need to be addressed,” she added.
The first meeting was held in April 2010 The dates of future meetings will be confirmed.
The Parents Support Group was initiated as a support and information-sharing opportunity for parents of transgendered children. This group meets on the last Wednesday of each month at the Gender DynamiX offices.
Gender DynamiX also wants to start a SOFFA support group for Significant Others, Friends, Family and Allies.
Two years for ID book PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 May 2010

Applying for an amendment to your ID document at the Department of Home Affairs can be tedious and could take up to two years depending on what you need.

First you have to apply for a name change. This could take from four months up to a year in practice. Only once you have received that ID document with your new name, can you apply for gender amendment, which in theory is  supposed to take from six  to eight months. However, in practice it could take up to a year before this ID document is issued.

So, in reality, a new identity document with a name and gender amendment can take up to two years and that is ridiculous, says Robert Hamblin, Advocacy Manager at Gender DynamiX.

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