Meet Uganda’s dancing queen

My name is  Alicia Nalunkuma I am a 22-year-old  dancer, transgender woman and a sex worker.

In live in Mukono a township in  Uganda.  They are a myriad of issues affecting many transdiverse people in my country.  Some of these challenges include unemployment, stigma and discrimination, physical and verbal abuse from all corners of society, public harassment, expulsion from school, blackmail, unlawful arrests and rejection by families.  This is why you will find most trans* people are either sex workers, homeless or not well educated. In my case, when my family found out I was a trans* woman, they kicked me out.  A few years ago, my family kicked me out when they found out that I was a transwoman.  I was a teenager,  without a family, a home or a job, and I had to fend for myself to survive. I had not completed education so finding a job was also not easy.  I quickly started sex work and to date that is how I manage to pay my bills for the room I rent, and also for my general upkeep.I have found a new family amongst my fellow trans’ sex worker we support each other.

As a  trans sex worker, life is not a bed of roses. Getting clients is a struggle and abuse is the order of the day, but I  have learnt to negotiate for my security in the trade.  To ensure that I don’t get harassed all the time, I spend most of the day in my house sleeping and only come out at night when I go to clubs to look for clients. The violence and harassment by clients is the one thing that i often worry about because you cannot report to the police when violated. For access to treatment especially STIs, we have clinics for sexual minorities at risk populations that assist us. However sometimes they do not have adequate medication we have to get prescriptions, and medication is not affordable this places our health at risk.

I am a dancer and have tried to get gigs in clubs or in bands, but most people do not want to imply me because they are either transphobia or supportive but are afraid of being attacked by revellers in clubs should anyone finds out I am trans*. I hope to start my own dancing group to explore my talent further.  I wish donors could support economic empowerment programs for example targeting transgender women so we can also have sustainable livelihoods.

I know life is not easy especially for trans* people, but  my message to my fellow trans* community across the world , is be proud of who  you are you, speak out and let  people know we exist. For example many people in my country think that trans* people are gay and  are quick to dismiss our issues.

The world should respect the universal declaration of human rights that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. My hope is that  all people are treated without discrimination or hate especially LGBT people. We are human t human beings not animals, treat us fairly and equally because today it might be me and next time it’s  you, your sister or brother.

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