Against the Rising Tide (A Poem)


Hated without reason
Living on a mission
To love with full conviction

This body is my affliction
Hence I make that decision
To enter this transition
And bring my soul to living

As I emerge from my cocoon
Like a bird freed from its caging
I hear the storms surrounding me
Society is raging

Their whispers turn to murmurs
And their murmurs turn to shouting
The pupae is a butterfly
But they surround it, doubting

They call me an imposter
And the waters rise in judgment
Never have I, felt so complete
Though I’ve been left abandoned

Their clenched fists pound my naked skin
They pound me like a drumbeat
Blow after blow, in this downpour
They cannot hear my heart beat

The cruelty and rising tide
So many have been shattered
Their only crime, to be themselves
For which they’re killed and battered

What is the crime in being myself?
That death should be my sentence
I only live to show my love
And long for your acceptance

I am Trans…and against the tide,
Of disapproval in their eyes
Still I rise….
Affirming truth…
I shall not choose,
To live a lie

International Transgender Day of Rememberance

For Immediate Release

The 14th International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is being held on 20 November 2012. TDOR occurs annually on November 20 to memorialize those who have been killed as a result transphobia. The day is also used to raise public awareness of hate crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people. Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project has revealed a total of 265 cases of reported killings of transgender people from November 15th 2011 to November 14th 2012 worldwide.

The project’s preliminary results reveal 1083 reports of murdered trans* people in 56 countries since January 2008. Sadly, this year saw an exponential increase in the number of hate crimes such as physical assaults and murders against transgender and gender non-conforming people in South Africa. We paid farewell to Vuyisa Dayisi from East London and Sasha lee Gordon from Wynberg who were both brutally murdered because of their gender identity. Many other cases were not reported as the victims and their families feared secondary victimization from the police.

Transgender and Intersex Africa would also like to highlight the increase in the number of suicide deaths by transgender people as a result of depression caused by trans* related issues. There were two reported cases of suicide deaths by transgender people this year. The cases revealed the lack of post transitioning support for trans* persons in South Africa, they also revealed the lack of justice for the trans* community in the country. One of the victims, Liyaah Star, committed suicide after she was wrongfully accused of raping a 15 year old boy and being detained in a male prison as a result of the accusations. Since TDOR is on a Tuesday this year, Transgender and Intersex Africa will host the TDOR event on the 24th of November at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg in order to make the event accessible to more people. Ironically, Constitution Hill is home to the South African Constitutional Court. Even though South Africa has a constitution that is praised around the world for its inclusion of gender and sexual diversity, the trans* community in the country is still discriminated against, the laws of the country have failed to protect and serve the trans* community.

The event will include a candle lighting ceremony and talks from key note speakers in the South African LGBTI community. “This day brings great sadness and anger for me. Transgender people take their own lives or are murdered simply because they are different. I urge South Africans to realize the value of another human being’s life. Transgender people are human beings and deserve to live too”- says Tebogo Nkoana, Executive Director at Transgender and Intersex Africa. “The increase of hate crimes against the trans* community indicates that a lot still has to be done to sensitize the African continent about gender and sexual diversity. The misguided notion that transgenderism is not African cannot be used as an excuse to discriminate against trans* people any longer. South Africa belongs to all who live in it, as the freedom charter states.” Says Nthabiseng Mokoena, Advocacy coordinator at Transgender and Intersex Africa.

For more information contact: Tebogo Nkoana Executive Director at or +2712 7972612


Nthabiseng Mokoena Advocacy Coordinator

Intersex Day of Rememberance

Today, the 8th of November, is Intersex Day of Remembrance. It is the 14th and ultimate day of The Fourteen Days of Intersex Awareness. This day marks Herculine Barbin’s birthday. Barbin lived in France in the 19th century and is regarded as the first intersex person to have written their biography. Barbin committed suicide in 1868 after legal authorities forced a transition to male.

Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA) would like to thank activists, allies and other mainstream organizations for the help in raising awareness around intersex issues during the 14 days of Intersex. We were able to attract the attention of general society, media and government in order to highlight the key challenges of intersex people in South Africa. We urge society to keep the conversation, advocacy and activism around intersex human rights alive; this should not only be done during the 14 days of intersex but every day of the year.

Even today, as in the days of Herculin Barbin, intersex people’s rights to bodily autonomy are still not fully recognized. Intersex People are still forced into normalization processes according socially constructed binaries. Transgender and Intersex Africa recognizes the hard work that advocates and activists worldwide have done in the pursuit to bring about a better life for intersex people and raise awareness about their issues. For this reason we would like to commend the life and work of Sally Gross and other intersex activists in South Africa. Gross is the founder and director of Intersex Society of South Africa (ISSA) and is the person that ensured that the national constitution of South Africa is fully intersex inclusive. She continues to tirelessly work towards the full emancipation of intersex people in South Africa.

“A lot of work still needs to be done on the African continent to raise awareness about intersex people, their human rights and the injustices they face as a result of bigotry, sexism, heteronormativity and stereotypical gender and sex norms. It takes a lot of courage for a person to come out and say that they are intersex and still claim their place in this world. For that, I applaud intersex activists and advocates for their courage and bravery” – says Nthabiseng Mokoena, Advocacy Coordinator at Transgender and Intersex Africa

“Non-consensual, unnecessary and uniformed intersex infant genital mutilation is a human rights violation. Parents of intersex children and medical doctors should not hold the power to impose a gender and sex on the child, this decision lies with the person not the doctors”- says Tebogo Nkoana, Director at Transgender and Intersex Africa

For more information:

Nthabiseng Mokoena
Advocacy Coordinator

Tebogo Nkoana
Executive Director

Dr Franco Colin

For immediate release

Exposing one of South Africa’s “trusted” transgender health care expects, Dr. Franco Colin.

On the 30th of October TIA received an e-mail from one of our constituents based in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The constituent who had been diagnosed by Dr. Colin was refused a letter confirming that he had undergone gender reassignment therapy. The letter is one of the requirements for anyone who wishes to change their sex description on their Identity document. An e-mail had been sent to the constituent stating:

“Unfortunately Doctor Colin cannot give you this letter as your process of gender reassignment is not completed yet. He can only do this after all the hormone therapy and surgery”

TIA wrote an e-mail to Dr. Colin’s office arguing that it is unconstitutional and insulting to refuse a patient the letter with an excuse that the gender reassignment process is not completed yet. It is clear that Dr. Colin does not have a complete understanding of sex alteration laws within the country or he ignores them. Act 49 of 2003 states:

“Any person whose sexual characteristics have been altered by surgical or medical treatment or by evolvement through natural development resulting in gender reassignment, or any person who is intersex may apply to the Director-General of the National Department of Home Affairs for the alteration of the sex description on his or her birth register”.

TIA also argued that it is an individual’s decision to define what a “complete” gender reassignment process means to them. It is unethical for a doctor to enforce what their view of “complete’ means on an individual.

After the e-mail sent to Dr. Colin’s office, the constituent received his letter. The letter was well written but insulting as it continuously addressed the female to male transsexual as “she”, even though it was clear from the letter that it was for an FTM patient. TIA asked how the Department of Home Affairs would acknowledge the gender of the constituent if his own doctor does not acknowledge it.

Dr. Colin is known as a psychiatrist who discriminated against transgender patients who are not working, claiming that this “lifestyle” is expensive and that it is for people with a high income. Most black transgender individuals have been discouraged to transition through Steve Biko Academic Hospital as Dr. Colin was previously used as gate keeper for patients who wished to transition through that hospital.

“It is disappointing to learn that a highly worshipped transgender expect would do these kinds of mistakes where he does not acknowledge correct gender pronouns and is clueless of Act 49. Dr. Colin should be ashamed of his title of being a well-known transgender expect” says Tebogo Nkoana, Director at TIA

“Medical doctors should not only be concerned with the health needs of a person, but also their human rights. What is the point of assisting a person to medically transition yet refuse to acknowledge their gender identity? The state of transgender health care within the country seriously needs to be re-evaluated” says Nthabiseng Mokoena, advocacy coordinator at TIA.

TIA urges Dr. Colin to improve his approach to transgender medical and social needs. He also needs to use updated standards of care for his patients.

For more information:
Nthabiseng Mokoena (Advocacy Coordinator)
Tel: +27780210363

Tebogo Nkoana (director)
Tel: +27734324499