Various writers have postulated that who a person is, including their uniqueness, can only be revealed through stories. This refutes the philosophy that defines through generalisation, focusing on what a person is, as is done by various systems, including laws and policies.
Each person has a unique existence, which although is temporal and fragile can hardly be captured in language, but rather in the singularity and uniqueness we possess. This is to say, there are no others.
This said, one can then boldly remind that there are those of us and those amongst us who exist in what can simply be called, the “betweens”. Those who transcend physical sex, and whose sole existence is the acknowledgement of the malleability of the concept of embodiment.
Despite language’s shortcomings in defining as failing to determine, one of the popularly accepted definitions (and only for purposes of clarity and not intended to limit or label), trans and gender diverse are umbrella terms used to describe those whose gender identity is at odds with their biological sex.
Gender queer is a term used to identify persons those who do not identify as neither male nor female, and prefer, in fact to not be viewed in a binary manner. A persons gender identity refers essentially to the gender that a person identifies as, regardless of their biological sex. This is often taken for granted by people who consider themselves cisgender, or those whose gender identity is congruent to their biological sex. Many trans and gender diverse persons are killed, violated, persecuted, isolated, discriminated against, and stigmatised for their mere existence in a world that still largely holds patriarchy in the highest esteem.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) also known as International Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed annually on the 20th November, as a say to memorialise those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. This column joins those raising awareness of this day and against hate crimes against transgender persons globally.
As at 1st October 2018, a total of 368 cases of reported killings of trans and gender diverse people had been recorded globally. These deaths emanated from discrimination and stigma, and are part of a structural and ongoing circle of oppression that keeps trans persons deprived of basic rights.
On the afternoon of 8th November 2018, in Botswana, LEGABIBO, an organisation that minds itself with advocacy, public education and awareness raising on marginalised sexualities and gender diversity issued a press release. The press release, published on the social media platforms, was made following the circulation of a video in which an unconscious transgender woman who appeared to have been stripped naked was being battered, trampled on, slapped and castigated. It is said that the audio to the shared video, very clearly confirms that the
The abuse went beyond the incident captured on video, and moved to social media, where some went as far as identifying the victim, completely removing what one could imagine as a protective wall, being anonymity.
In the comments made to the video, it is said that non of the voices was calling for the gruesome violence to stop. The video is said to have been captured at a popular night club in Mogoditshane. This is not an isolated incident.
It is one of the few that has caused a public response. Very many similar incidents are swept under the rug of the law’s failures to acknowledge each person for their singularity, which is therefore a failure to specifically protect trans and gender diverse persons. It is noted that despite Botswana’s seemingly clear Constitutional provisions that no person is to be subjected to discrimination, or inhumane and degrading treatment, the same is perpetuated by an insistence on focusing on what people are as opposed to who they are.
The treatment of persons of diverse identities, and whose identities question biological sex, shedding light on reality of the construct of sex being a virtual identity, and life being a process and not a destination, are the most endangered, because they fall outside what can be controlled in the current order of things.
The vilification of diversity causes society to question the definitions of a person, and not respond to the violence inflicted on a human being, who is living in a country often applauded for her human rights protection mechanisms.
On the 20th November, you are invited to think about your part in society, as an individual who either encourages or dissuades diversity, through violence. You are invited to take a moment and consider the many lives lost, not to ignorance, as is often postulated, but to hatred, and hatred of those whose lives are forcing us to reflect on our own existence.
To question. To resist. To revolt. Because quite honestly, those in that video who took part in the gruesome violence against that young woman, or watched as it happened; and those who shared the video are no better than those individuals who, in South Africa, caused, implemented, supported and lent a hand to apartheid. The same apartheid that Botswana vehemently opposed. The real ones amongst us are the ones we think are misfits. The rest of us are but cowards.