Copy of #TheSafeSpace Column published in the Times Of Swaziland on the 27th of April 2016:
Welcome and thank you for tuning into our final episode of Inclusive Society. Over the past four weeks we have placed the focus on a group that is often ignored, discriminated against and mercilessly judged; the transgender community in Swaziland. The previous episodes in this series sought to raise public awareness on the unnecessarily marginalization of transgender people and hopefully lead to inclusive attitudes, mind-sets and policies to ensure equality amongst the citizens of this beautiful Kingdom.
Our journey started with a conversation shortly after the Transgender Day of Visibility (31 March). The conversation with LGBTI advocate Lindokuhle on the challenges facing transgender people in Swaziland opened up my eyes even wider and highlighted the importance of information and celebrating humanity. Bringing such issues to the forefront really goes a long way into casting light upon gender identities that are regarded as taboo or non-existent. We still leave in a world where some think that being straight is the default mode of a human being and anything that goes against that must be wrong. Our world is so used to exclusively pleasing and accommodating heterosexual individuals that is widely acceptable to mock the LGBTI community. To the world, its a joke that someone would possess a gender identity that we cannot even begin to fully understand. In all our jokes and ignorance filled conversation, we forget that as much it is difficult to fully understand someones gender identity, it is probably difficult for them to understand your own identity; yet you do not get mocked.
In my opinion, the issues of gender, identity and sexual orientation are serious business. The modern world is already tough as it is, with all the bills, mortgages, race issues, financial inequality and so forth. With all these challenges going on, why are we so insistent on putting certain people under more pressure? Why are we so fixated on other peoples gender identities and who they date or marry? I know these questions come with their own answers but lets take a step back and analyse the answer that involves allowing people to be the best that they feel they can be.
For me, the past four weeks have been extremely fulfilling. Even though I have always been tolerate and accommodating to all; I feel that learning to appreciate the presence of others is an invaluable life experience that positively shapes my own personal and professional relationships.
A big thank you to Lindokuhle and The Rock of Hope for providing the valuable insight that was required to compile this series; I am now a fully-fledged Trans Ally! To get in touch with The Rock of Hope and lend your support in the pursuit of equality, send an email to email@example.com
As we conclude, I hope that Swaziland and others can follow in the progressive footsteps of countries like South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. I will be deeply satisfied if people read this series in the future and say to themselves, “Wow, the past was filled with such depressing levels of discrimination thank goodness times have changed.”
Feel free to share your comments with me through Twitter (@chr1sfleming), blog (www.chr1sfleming.wordpress.com) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org. Until we meet again, goodbye.