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Partnering to Combat Criminalisation of Sex Work. PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gender DynamiX and Sex Work organisation partner to combat criminalisation of  Sex Work.
By Charl Marais
SWEAT and Gender DynamiX have joined forces in addressing the rights of transgender sex workers. The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) has called for the full decriminalisation of sex work and the whole of the sex industry, currently criminalised by the Sex Offences Act 23 of 1957, the Sex Offences Amendment Act 2007 and Municipal By-Laws. This Act penalises sex work, the keeping of brothels, the procurement of women as sex workers, and living off the earnings of sex work.
According to Sally-Jean Shackleton, director of SWEAT, as things now stand, many transgender women are
Day in life GdX Advocacy Manager PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Day In The Life Of Robert Hamblin Gdx Advocacy Manager
A large part of the work that Gender DynamiX (GDX) does revolves around lobbying and advocacy. While more and more people are learning to understand the challenges that transgender people face daily, there are still people – especially service providers – who need to be educated about transgender issues and how they can provide services beneficial to transgender persons. And that is where Robert Hamblin, Advocacy Manager and Deputy Director of Gender DynamiX, fits in.
A typical day in the life of Robert Hamblin starts at six am when he checks his 1001 emails and sets about planning his day, wishing a day has thirty hours. His job is a high contact one and there are days when he comes into contact with up to fifty people throughout the day. These include the nine staff members at GDX , contacts via emails and telephone, pop-ins, support groups and presentations. Robert forms part of the Management team which includes Liesl Theron and He-Jin Kim and they are constantly in consultation with each other.
His advocacy is directed at the relevant government departments and the public. Information is constantly provided to the powers-that-be such as Social Services, the Departments of Health, Education and Home Affairs, constantly pushing them to do their jobs and sometimes even having to explain to them what that job entails when it comes to trans people.
He also disseminates information to the public, including transgender and cisgender people. And as Gender DynamiX expands as an organisation, so his job becomes more involved since in his role as Deputy Director he is responsible for local programming while Executive Director Liesl Theron concentrates more on international transgender affairs.
Currently Robert is also training three people in outreach. This forms part of GDX’s vision to empower transgender people to become activists. Thus Robert is part of the management team that takes care of all organisational aspects, ensuring the smooth running of the organisation. “I have to know everything about everything,” Robert says.
A more recent addition to his workload is advocacy and outreach amongst transgender sex workers, facilitating a support group and hitting the street between midnight and two am on Friday nights looking for and doing outreach with transgender sex workers. This support group is also currently lobbying for the decriminalisation of sex work.
 Robert also facilitates a Parent Support Group for parents of transgender children. Their primary focus is lobbying for reform at the Department of Education regarding gender variant children in schools.
Robert is in the process of building up a team of advocacy volunteers to relieve him of some of the pressure: Estian Smit was instrumental in bringing about reform which culminated in Act 49 of 2003, allowing transgender persons to apply for an identity document which recognises their Gender identity assists Robert in a lot of his work. Dr Arnaud de Villiers assists with the medical aspects since of Gender DynamiX advocacy work. There are only two hospitals catering for transgender people – Pretoria Academic and Groote Schuur Hospital. Leigh-Ann van der Merwe, a recent intern at GDX, initiates a large number of reports that are co-edited with Robert and Arnaud and Estian reporting on human rights violations of transgender people.
Other aspects of Robert’s job include liaising with the Gender DynamiX Board as well as with lawyers and international key transgender activists. The Media plays a big role in advocacy and lobbying and Robert often advises them, especially on how to refer to transgender people and the best way to deal with them. He also does presentations at seminars and universities especially on the difference between Gender Identity and sexual orientation by defining the two concepts.
He certainly does not have a nine-to-five, five-day-week job, but fortunately he has a wife who also works for and NGO and understands the challenges. They often make dates with each other and every three months or so they try to get out of town for a day or two. And he does try to get home before the sun goes down which is hard to do in winter.
To wind down Robert takes a swim in the sea or sits on the beach watching the waves, this helps him to forget about work for a while. “I also have children in my life and when I play with them it, helps me realise what is important. My family sustains my energy so I can work hard. Without them I will just wither and be of very little use for our movement” he says.

A motherís love... PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 April 2011

By Leigh Ann van der Merwe

Many of us have heard the saying….”you strike a woman, and you strike a rock”! This statement has never been more true where it concerns the life of Mignon Knoetze, the mother of a transgender teenager from East London.  This rising activist took to the battlefield with the education system of an entire province and rose above it victoriously. So many times the role of a SOFFA (Significant other, friends, family and allies) is overlooked. They play a very supportive role and yet many times they themselves have very little or no support. This article celebrates the role of a remarkable mother. 

A day in the life of Ö Leigh Ann (Gender DynamiX Outreach Intern) PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Gender DynamiX has a large membership base with new members joining all the time. There is a great need for information about the various aspects of being a transgender, from transitioning to new ID documents. Almost the first person a constituent gets to deal with at Gender DynamiX is the Outreach Officer. Leigh Ann van der Merwe (and she assures me that she is no relation of that famously notorious guy who is the butt of so many South African jokes) is the Outreach Intern at Gender DynamiX.

Bishop Russel's gaze on Trans PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A Challenge to society and to the churches

Little did I know how enriching would be the encounter when I went to meet with a group of transgender persons a while ago at the offices of Gender Dynamix, Saartjie Baartman Centre in Manenberg, Cape Town. Their openness, humanity and faith moved and inspired me.
What follows is simply an attempt to convey something of their experience – in their own words. The quotations in this article come both from the group I engaged with, and also from the book they gave me and signed: “trans – Transgender Life Stories from South Africa” by Ruth Morgan, Charl Marais, Joy Rosemary Wellbeloved;   Jacana Media, 2009.

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