The LGBTI community wants more to be done during Women’s Month to reflect on the challenges they face. Increasing incidents of corrective rape and targeted assaults on lesbians and transgender women are among the issues they feel should enjoy greater prominence.
“Me and my partner have been together almost a year. I have been openly lesbian, it has been a number of years. I only came out in 2009. You know how it is. We live our lives in secrecy until you have the guts,” says lesbian Relebohile Mohlabi.
This is an all too familiar story in the LGBTI community, despite constitutional backing for their choice.
It’s been harder to win over family and society.
“Even today the term lesbian has people raising their eyebrows. Ok! What do you mean? How are you going to have kids? Like what’s going to happen because you know people think there is only one way of having a kid. When you get there you are looked at like kante ha o mosimane? O papa? If you say you are a woman you are expected to be somehow. Your hair, dresses, how you walk. You know my grandmother would always say watch how you sit. Is this how you talk? I know you are lesbian but why o sa tshwane le lebo. And ga ke lebo but that does not mean I identify any less than lebo’s identity. At the end of the day I’m still a woman,” says another lesbian Kokeletso Legoete.
“I came out as a transgender woman in 2010. People feel that being a transgender is something fashionable because now trans people’s lives are out in the open and in the media. So when you come out saying I am a transgender woman they feel that you are just after fashion,” says transgender Millicent Sebotsa.
The struggle for recognition continues and so too is the battle to fend off hate crimes. Masego Khudunyane’s lesbian sister was brutally raped in 2016 by a neighbour.
“As her sister I noticed that something was different and I asked her about the type of relationships she wants to have and she told me she wants to have relationships with other women just like her. So we accepted her until the accident in 2016. I would like to urge all women to look out for each other despite our different genders,”“ says the victim’s sister, Masego Khudunyane.
Her sister is in hiding, fearing for her safety. It’s typical of what confronts the LGBTI community and what they want more focus during Women’s month.
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