REMEMBERING SA’S TRANS VICTIMS

On 9 June 2012, Thapelo Makutle was reportedly killed because she was gender nonconforming. According to a witness report, she had an argument in a bar with two heterosexual men regarding her sexuality. The men later followed her home, broke into her apartment and slit her throat. South African NGO LEGBO called it a transphobic attack, adding that “she was mutilated, her genitalia cut out and a bottle inserted into her body”.

On 24 June 2012, the body of Sasha Lee Gordon, a trans woman sex worker was found in Wynberg, Cape Town. She had been stabbed through the heart and left to die on the pavement.

On 1 July 2012, a 19-year-old trans Western Cape woman who engaged in sex work (name withheld as requested by family for family privacy) was shot dead by a client who discovered she was trans.

Vuyisa Dayisi’s dead body was discovered next to her shack in Duncan Village, East London on Sunday morning, 15 July 2012. This was a great shock to all the minority groups in East London to whom she was known as “Norizana”. The 28-year-old Vuyisa proudly identified as a transgender woman and was known to everyone in her community.

In addition to the victims of transphobic hate crimes, Gender DynamiX said it would today also pay tribute to those who died by their own hand as a result of trans issues. These include:

  • Lyndsay, whose story was told in the book Trans – Transgender Life Stories from South Africa, committed suicide 28 October 2012. Reportedly she had been struggling with depression for a number of years. Liyaah Starr cut herself 46 times with a scalpel and then hanged herself on 6 April.
  • Liyaah had been suffering from depression since 2008 when she was wrongfully accused of raping a 15 year-old boy. According to her mother, Erica Hill, Liyaah never got over the horror of the arrest, the ensuing court case and the 14 terror-filled days she spent in a male cell in a police prison during the trial.

“As a person who has been in the throes of depression myself for a number of years, I can relate and it touches me in the deepest part of me that such incidents still occur,” said Azania Maseko, Board member of Gender DynamiX.

“Transgender people are still systematically marginalised. They face a lot of challenges in accessing health care, education and jobs and other social services,” S’bu Kheswa, Advocacy Co-ordinator at Gender DynamiX said.

“This state of affairs causes distress and directly contribute to loss of transgender lives as living becomes unbearable. Let us continue to work towards a world where everyone can live with dignity,” added Kheswa.

Since 1999, the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), on which those trans people who have been victims of homicide are remembered, takes place every November 20th.