Still we rise!- Zimbabwean Trans* activists

..as  more Trans  and Intersex groups emerge

Queerstion  Magazine QM interviewed  Tinashe Sande TS  the leader of Trans Intersex Rising TIRZ a  movement building initiative by and for transdiverse Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora in collaboration with LGB allies.

QM: Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Tinashe Sande, a  Zimbabwean human rights activist. I am the  chairperson of Trans* and Intersex Rising Zimbabwe (TIRZ),

QM: May you tell our readers about your organising as TIRZ

TIRZ is the brain-child of Zimbabwean trans* and Intersex activists  in Zimbabwe and across the globe. Although we are activists who have been involved actively in the LGBT movement, we began to  exclusively focus on  TTransdiverse people’s  rights  and organising  this year.  In tandem with our mission  which is : “Advancement through Empowerment”, we aim to ensure Trans* and Intersex persons are empowered through provision of support and sharing of  knowledge and skills. We have  since set up a number of programmes and activities which are in line with our goals.Its important to highlight that  we do not work in isolation and we believe in collaborations, for instance for   International  Trans Day of  Visibility commemorations,  we are partnering with an LGBTI organisation GALZ to host a film screening based on trans* activist Marsha P. Johnson.  We hope that this screening will educate Trans diverse people about our history and as well as the impact that we have on the broader LGB and human rights movements.

QM:  This year’s  theme for the International Trans*  day of visibility’s  is    #TransResilience.  What does this mean to you?

The picture above  is my way of  capturing exactly what Trans resilience means to me and the many trans people who go through similar challenges.  The public community (including the LGB community sometimes) demands that we bind ourselves to what they feel  comfortable, that is for us to conform to gender norms.  “Put on a skirt, Put on makeup!” “Pray about it,  you  will become like other women!” This often leads to painful experiences for us. In spite of violations and harassments, our community is resisting and  we continue to rise.

QM. May you kindly explain the reasoning behind the above photograph

And this picture, where I am pushing against the norms and those who push them on me, is a reflection of that. However, the one thing that may not be so obvious in this image is that we are not alone. It is because of the resistance of activists and advocates who came before us that we are able to fight back in unity today.   It is important that we resist together, this makes us stronger.

QM: You are  Queerstion Media partners, may you shed more light on this?

I feel that the answer can be summed up in that much-used statement “Nothing for us without us”. A lot of the information and narratives available around trans* identities have been based on the realities of those outside of our context. Therefore, to make sure that the young Zimbabwean who doesn’t know what why they are a man in a woman’s body can see that he is not alone, we felt it was important to take part in this great initiative. Plus, it ties in excellently with our own baseline survey that we are carrying out that seeks to identify the needs of the Trans* and Intersex community through encouraging them to share their realities.  Being involved and partnering this initiative gives us a platform to connect with across borders.  It is an important and unique platform which is  Trans*led, individuals and communities can create and share own narratives safely without being sensationalised or constant negative portrayal as we are witnessing in other media. 

QM: In your view how best can this initiative yield better results?

TS: There are those who are trans* and have no internet access. The information carried in the magazine is important and vital for all Trans* persons, we will need to ensure that strategies are in place for wider and diverse reach.

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