South Africa hosted the first ever African Strategy Workshop for transgender activists last week.

Trans people from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe took part in the event organised by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Gender DynamiX.

15 activists met to discuss the specific needs of transgender people on the African continent.

“Transgender people throughout the world experience frequent and unacceptable discrimination, violence and abuse,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director.

“IGLHRC is proud to be part of this historic gathering of transgender people, taking the fight for human rights in Africa to a whole new level.”

There is only one transgender organisation, Gender DynamiX, on the whole continent.

The African Strategy Workshop was designed to help activists, “document human rights abuses against transgender people, derive best practices for human rights advocacy, and share information on gender identity, reassignment surgery and hormone treatment.”

Liesl Theron, Director of Gender DynamiX, said:

“This long overdue meeting forms an integral part of trans history on our continent and a cornerstone for our future work.

“Participants at the workshop gave moving and painful testimony revealing the wide range of human rights abuses-from arbitrary arrest and detention to rape and murder-that African transgender people regularly encounter.”

Activists focused on the case of South African Daisy Dube, who was murdered in Johannesburg after requesting that she not be called istabane (a derogatory Zulu slang word, similar to faggot).

Skipper Mogapi, Trans Alternate at the Trans Secretariat of ILGA, said the workshop was a dream come true.

“Seeing trans people together in their space raising their concerns without being intimidated. We know what the issues are and can now deal with them.”