By: Koena Elliot Mokobocho
It is paramount to bring light to sensitive and important issues that are generally ignored by society, especially if that ignorance may bring harm to others. The transgender community has faced this neglect for many years, from society and within its community. The Transgender Day of Remembrance, also known as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, has been observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.
Although it’s still taboo to be Trans in many countries, in Lesotho it is almost unheard of. Basotho are unaware of what it is and what it means to be Trans and the issues surrounding transsexuality. We are so oblivious, that most would not be able to fathom or even accept the existence of a transgender person.
In celebration of Transgender Day of Remembrance and to raise awareness on the issue of being transgender and increasing trans visibility; the US Embassy in Lesotho and The People’s Matrix Association came together to host a screening event at The American Corner. The screening showcased short films depicting the lives of transgender people and their individual experiences. One of the films was a short video of an African-American transgender woman who had been incarcerated for four years without trial. We follow her life after her incarceration and get an understanding of her struggles of finding employment with her given history.
The event kickstarted with a presentation on sexuality. Covering aspects like; gender and gender expression, sex and sexuality, and highlighting being queer. The slides gave a broad view of sexuality and provided a crash course on some terminology used when we talk about sexuality. Words like; Cis, Heterosexual, Homosexual, and Asexual.
In between screenings, the event turned into a panel discussion. Members of the audience were given a chance to voice their thoughts on the film they had just seen. The host would also ask the audience fun and engaging questions that were also educational on the topic of sexuality. It was very easy to get lost in the questions and be left to ponder. It is not often we are faced with the question of what gender is or the issues of sexuality and sexual attraction.
The event organizers highlighted how important it was to have these conversations around sexual minorities and the issues they are faced with. It is through these conversations that solutions can arise. Being aware of these marginalized groups helps give them visibility.
There is a future for events like this and for the countries’ Queer Community. In a world where queer people have people criminalized and even murdered for being who they are, it is refreshing to see people from more conservative countries like Lesotho take a step towards increasing queer visibility and promoting a more equal space. Where people are allowed to love who they love and are not prosecuted for wanting to transition from one sex to another and embrace their true selves, a world where queer people are not subject to scorn and judgment.