Human Rights activists and sympathizers from across the city of Gaborone and other areas are expected to converge at Yarona Lodge in Mogoditshane, on Friday (19 November 2010) evening to observe a moment of silence and candle lighting in memory of those who lost their lives, or suffered prejudice at the alter of transgender hatred and prejudice.
Internationally, the day is commemorated on November 20 internationally.
The day, initially identified to honour a United States of America citizen, Rita Hester, who was murdered on November 28th 1998 for her sexual identity, was to later inspire the commemoration of “Remembering our Dead”, a universally celebrated day.
Skipper Mogapi, one of the organizers, and member of the Rainbow Identity Association (RIA) told the Telegraph that, “On account of the collective resolve of the Trans community worldwide to use the day to appreciate the challenges so far involved in combating the stigma associated with transgender and intersex people, the Trans movement in Botswana has this year opted in favour of joining the world in remembering victim and survivors of Transphobia and hate speech from our societies.”
Mogapi pointed out that although it is not possible to cite specific figures of how many people in Botswana may have fallen victim to abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, especially transgender or intersex, there is a trend showing that there is one person somewhere around the globe being suffered on that basis.
“As such, while we know with certainty the existence of people of Trans and intersex gender in our own land, we believe there is no need to wait until we are caught unaware in our country,” posited Mogapi.
It is against that background that RIA aims to use the commemoration day to increase public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people and to publicly condemn all those involved in these acts, and to call upon governments to protect gender “non-conforming people”.
Again, the day is intended to encourage unity of all those affected, with all those in the fight against Transphobia, across the world. Even though most cases of murder related to transphobia are not documented in the majority of African countries, it has been established that nearly 434 transgender people have been killed around the world.
Mention was made of cases in different African countries, including Nigeria, involving severe transphobia. In Nigeria for instance, it was claimed that one sister was continually harassed, beaten, and had to flee for her life, while on 2 July 2008, Daisy Dube, a well known Drag artist in Johannesburg, was murdered when she asked the perpetrator not to call her isitabane anymore. (Isitabane is a derogative Zulu slang word, similar to faggot).
Another Trans woman from Namibia formed part of the statistics of those reported brutally assaulted and denied jobs and other otherwise deserving opportunities.
The Transgender commemoration comes 5 days ahead of the start of “16 Days of Activism”, which is a strategic host of anti gender-discrimination activities.
Acknowledgement of many African men and women who are silenced about their gender identity and living daily in danger of their lives is set to be highlighted at Friday evening’s event through poetry, stories and folklore as well as candle lighting.
In conclusion, “At the Trans Day of Remembrance we gather together in the hopes that someday, by working together, we can make these changes happen. We gather as a way to gain strength and we gather as an act of resistance,” stated Mogapi.