The People’s Matrix marked and celebrated the International Transgender Day of Visibility. 31st March is a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of transgender people and raising awareness about the discrimination and violence they still face.
This year’s theme, “Trans Equality Now,” highlights the urgent need for equal rights and protections for transgender individuals around the world. Despite some progress in recent years, transgender people continue to face high rates of discrimination in education, employment, healthcare, and public accommodations.
The People’s Matrix in collaboration with Southern Africa Litigation Center (SALC) and Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA)Lesotho jointly published a Gender Legal Recognition Brief, which is a document that provides information and guidance on the interpretation of the legal frameworm and challenges faced by transgender and non-conforming people in obtaining legal gender recognition in Lesotho.
The brief aims to provide emperical evidence based on up-to-date international scientific understanding and best practices, on issues pertaining to legal gender recognition, including changing ‘sex’ or ‘gender’ markers on identity documents. It also explains the relationship between sex and gender, gender-affirming practices and gender-affirming healthcare.
The event was graced with the presence of representatives from Trans identifying persons, who shared their experiences and challenges encountered in different spaces;business, education, health and politics.
One exceptional speaker, Sheriff Mothopeng, who became the first transgender individual to permeate the political space and actually got nominated to stand for a constituency in the October 2022 General Elections emphasized some of the challenges transgender persons still have to face. Sheriff highlighted and called out African countries on their silence regarding Uganda’s anti-LGBTIQ+ law, because they are failing to hold each other accountable.
Anti-LGBTIQ+ Law criminalizes any person that identity as LGBTIQ+ and any association. Sheriff indicated that the passing of that law has so many implications, “Until today, countries like Lesotho have not committed yet in writing if they recognize and protect LGBTIQ communities, so it leaves an opportunity for oppressors to one day wake up and criminalize the LGBTIQ+community.”
According to the Women and Law Southern Africa(Lesotho), Mpho Theko highlighted that, upto this far, Lesotho has no specific laws that protect or prohibit same sex relations. However, Theko indicated that the Counter-domestic Violence Act of 2022, which aims to protect the rights of all citizens in domestic relations of all forms of abuse, ‘could’ also protect same sex couples. This is because in terms of the Act, domestic relations vary from married couples, co-habiting couples, dating couples and intimate couples etc.
In attendance as well was a representative from Department of Gender, Mahali Sekants’i. Sekants’i indicated that the Gender policy does recognise gender is diverse, however the classification of the marginalized groups within the policy is not specific as to who are these marganalized groups.
There are many challenges that still need to be addressed. That as it may be, the transgender community remains resilient and vibrant, with many individuals leading the way in activism, art, business and sports. Transgender people are making their voices heard and demand change.
On this day of visibility, let us celebrate the achievements of transgender people and commit ourselves to fighting for their full equality and human rights. As Moruti Mbela said, “We need to move from a place of shame to self-worth, self acceptance and self understanding.”
Also in attendance were representatives from the military, ministry of education and ministry of health.