Equitable inclusion of transgender women who contributed in the movement is key

11 March 2021, Access Chapter 2 (AC2) released a list of South Africa’s 30 Queer women to be celebrated. Queer Women in all their diversities on the 10th March 2021.  The list shared emanated from the fact that February South Africa observed Black history month and the International Women’s Day celebration. Although the intention is to recognise and appreciate many who contributed in social justice movement in the past as part of the series and recognise those who contributes and holds the space now in the later stage, to ensure that the future is secured with the next generation of activists and leaders. The intention was never to divide or exclude anyone.

This morning, we met with the leaders of the trans and gender diverse organisations who appreciated the noble act, intention and leadership that AC2 has displayed on this awareness celebratory. However, raised legitimate and constructively so concerns of equitable exclusion and the need to visibly recognise the trans women that contributed to the struggle of liberation, ensuring consent and self-determination and solidarity in amplifying the voices of ALL.

Indeed, it is known that trans and intersex women, particularly women of colour are among the most marginalised members of the LGBTQI+ community. Thus, we run the danger of distorting herstory and the same issues we raise of erasure. That is not the position of the organisation. We recognise histories and current realities of heteronormative patriarchy, homophobia, gender policing, trans exclusion and intersex invisibility across movements for rights and justice.

AC2 has since its founding days had ensured that equity and equality is a lived reality in programming and policy discourse. We want to re-affirm trans persons, intersex, gender diverse women and non-binary people who also have diverse sexual orientation that our work will continue and will be shaped by improvement, collaboration and partnership. This is reflected in the body of work of the organisation, how we work collaboratively and the experience of the organisation.

AC2 Executive Director Steve Letsike said “As a leader in the movement nationally and globally, I hold the view that everyone should be prepared as part of the community to shift the patterns and systems of privilege in the context of identity, self-determination, inclusion and equity within the LGBTIQ+ movement, together. We should make it easier for others to participate than harder to do so. We should be prepared to widen the circle of change without provoking the kind of defensiveness that perpetuates paths of least resistance. There is no such thing as doing nothing. It is therefore, I took an urgent decision to apply the just manifestation of destiny we want to see for all, in this regard to engage and account accordingly”.  

To reflect this, we have taken down the list of “30 Queer women in South Africa being celebrated”. And with the collaboration and support by the trans and gender diverse organisations we will in the next 48 hours have the list of “40 Queer women in South Africa to be celebrated” amongst many who are not listed and however, will be identified and listed with other editions to come. This will ensure inclusion and a just approach to the celebratory awareness of recognising the many contribution in the movement.  We have listened to the feedback and we have robustly applied a just approach as we remain accountable to ALL. We appreciate the extent of openness, respect and the cost that comes with speaking out. Equally we remain comfortable to positive criticism. We apologise for those who positively responded to the list and apologise for convenience of the adjustment that needs to take place.

Statement is released on behalf of Access Chapter 2, Steve Letsike. For enquiries contact Argentina on / 010 100 3177

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