Article in the Windhoek Express online newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trans

Trans rights are rights too

 

Limba Mupetami – Trans what? Why do you want to become a woman? What surgery? Really, how will they change the sausage into a cookie? They do that? My word!
“These are just some reactions I get when I tell people I’m transgender. Some look at me and laugh; others want to be funny, changing their voices and saying ‘hi girl’. Some people will greet you and be nice. Then you find those that will call you moffie as if that’s my name. For me the term ‘moffie’ is derogatory,” says Jholerina Brinnett Timbo – Advocate, Founder and Executive Director of Wings to Transcend Namibia, an organisation fighting for transgender rights.
Jholerina attended the recent International AIDS Conference in Durban that attracted more than 15 000 delegates from all over the world. Here she shares her experiences at the conference and her identity with Windhoek Express.
“The International AIDS Conference 2016 was an overwhelming experience as there were so many sessions, dialogues, exhibitions and engagements that were happening at the same time. It was an amazing experience and the first AIDS conference I have attended.
“It gave me a great opportunity to network with other organisations that are doing the same work. We shared experiences and received guidance and advice on how to approach certain situations in the community,” she says.
Diving into the burning question of her identity, Jholerina says she was given the name Jholer Benson Timbo when she was born in Omaruru. She has four siblings: three sisters and a brother.
“I came out to my family in 2006. It was three years after I had completed high school. The reason for not coming out sooner was because I had friends who were disowned by their family while they were still at school. I was scared. I told myself to finish school and find work so that no one bosses you around because you don’t eat from them or live with them and in retrospect that made my life easier.”
When she came out she identified herself as a gay man, but wasn’t completely happy with it. She says she felt lost because there was so much information available about being gay, but never information on being transgender.
“There were so many different identities and terminologies. Growing up I was exposed to people calling me ‘he’, I really got angry and I wanted to be referred to as she and her and even today I have a fit when someone refers to me as ‘he’. I hate it; it does not resonate with me.”
She says that being transgender is a process of continuously coming out. It is not a once-off thing. “I still come out every day as I continue meeting new people.”
However, being transfer is not all there is to Jholerina.
“I’m a passionate young Namibian who has a creative flair and an eye for detail. Since 2004 I worked in the hospitality industry and even had the privilege to cook for the Founding Father, among many things.”
Jholerina says she has served her country as a chef on many occasions but the fact that she could not enjoy the same protection and inclusion as everyone else, became an issue. “I volunteered at The Rainbow Project (TRP) in 2006, but moved on due to work commitments. In 2015, after meeting a few transgender people, we decided to start a trans-specific organisation that focuses on our challenges and needs and how we can address them.”
“That’s how I find myself where am today and the road has been testing. Many of the issues our community deals with include the public health sector. Stigma and discrimination is rife. We do not have a choice but to use our identity documents when we seek medical attention and that means that we are mis-gendered.”
“There is no gender affirming health care service. Access to hormone treatment is a problem in Namibia. We want to transition but hormones are expensive and not all of us can afford to transition here. I hope our health care can provide affordable hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with a touch of gender-affirming health care.”
In the future Jholerina says she wishes to see a well-sensitised Namibia on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) issues, needs and challenges and is collectively aiming to eradicate stigma and discrimination against the LGBTIQ community.
“Trans people must to be legally recognised and included in the constitution. Growing up I was stigmatised and discriminated against at school and in society, even when I was still in the closet. I was made to believe there was something wrong with me; that I was abnormal and I lacked something. My childhood was stolen from me, my joy and happiness was taken from me and I was denied the chance to express myself as who am. I felt helpless and hopeless, and I thought of suicide many times. That’s why I advocate for transgender people to be who they are regardless of what the next person thinks. It is not a nice place to be in: to feel hopeless, helpless, useless and worthless. I never want to see another person going through what I went through.
“I see a Namibia that is Inclusive of LGBTIQ communities in national policies, programming and implementation of international mechanisms on local level. I see a Namibia that has integrated LGBTIQ communities in all employment sectors with zero tolerance on stigma and discrimination in employment settings. A society that ensures that LGBTIQ issues, needs and challenges are addressed as any other issue, need or challenge.”

 

 

 

The Namibian newspaper dedicated an entire section on LGBTIQ+ needs

Thank you Namibian newspaper for sharing our reality’s and our experiences as LGBTIQ+ community of Namibia and the challenges and obstacles we still have to over come. We shall over come some day. But it all begins with us all as individuals and civil society organisations to forge on advocating and lobbying for Equity and inclusion of all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is Time that the change begins with you my mother’s, my brothers ,sisters, aunts and uncles it all starts with love and protection of your loved ones.if you want your loved ones to be happy and free they we all should stand united as family and advocate for equality and equity for all.
‪#‎MyTransformation‬
‪#‎MyTransJourney‬
‪#‎TransLivesMatter‬
‪#‎Khoetage‬

 

Pan Africa IlGA-Regional LGBTI Conference

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African Bodies Breaking Grounds Building Bridges was the theme for the Pan African IlGA Regional Conference that took place in Johannesburg from 13-18 May 2016.what this Conference meant for a Small emerging Trans Specific organization was that we would get an opportunity to network with bigger organizations that have been in existence far longer then us and share experiences and get advice and guidance .

Also to engage with possible future Donors and funder and create  those partnerships that would benefit the transgender community of Namibia.The Trans Pre-Conferences were amazing and hands on and we got to see that regardless of where in Africa we come from we Share common situations in our countries.issues of stigma ,discrimination and violence.Access to services mainly the Health care Fraternities and the protection services(law enforcement),Lack of information on trans terminologies and what they mean, Trans needs and issues and Trans Visibility  where commonalities that come up .it come to light that as much as we might find ourselves in different parts of Africa Gender Identity issues and needs still need a lot of advocacy ,sensitization and awareness raising.This become evident with many transgender activist expressing their views on how we the transgender community has to always have to advocate for inclusion in settings we are supposed to be part of.The need for us to raise our voices and amplify our Voices for inclusion is a reality we face when trainings and conferences take place.

The Main Conference was informative with panel discussions that motivate and enlightened us on how we can go about ascertaining certain Goals that we as organizations have and how we can lobby for equality and equity for the communities we serve.This Panel Discussions also shared Best Practices and guidelines in ensuring that our advocacy strategies are according to our country context and situations as per our constitutions and how we can use regional and international instruments and mechanism to aid our struggle and Advocacy.

This Conference did bring together 35 African countries and had more then 180 participants from across the Globe.

This indeed was a Safe space where many Africans that are rejected,stigmatized,unacknowledged  and discriminated could express themselves fully without fear of stigma and discrimination and be their true selves.The PAN AFRICAN ILGA REGIONAL LGBTI CONFERENCE was indeed Motivational ,Yes  Indeed African Bodies Breaking Grounds and Building Bridges.

 

 

Sex workers, transsexuals decry discrimination (New Era)

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April 20, 2016

by Selma Ikela

Windhoek

Sex workers and transsexuals met with DTA MP Elma Dienda to discuss issues affecting them, such as the stigma and discrimination they suffer when accessing health care and police services, as well as in employment.

They aired their grievances at a rare meeting between sex workers and a politician.

The group, accompanied by the Director of Rights not Rescue Nikodemus Aoxamub, known as ‘Mama Africa’, Wings to Transcend Namibia Executive Director Jholerina Timbo and their technical advisor and consultant Sarry Xoagus-Eises met at the DTA office at parliament on Monday.

After being formally briefed on the purpose of their visit, Dienda asked the group what they expected from her.

Aoxamub replied that after 26 years of independence they have not seen sex worker issues discussed in parliament and that they want the pre-independence immoral practice Act abolished so that they can look to good policies being developed by parliament for them.

He said this would help them enjoy fundamental human rights.

“If the law is not abolished … there was already hate speech against the key population from national leaders. They must correct their mistakes so that the law can be abolished,” added Aoxamub.

Dienda said the Act can only be challenged when she has the group’s support as it will not help her to go to parliament with a beautiful motion yet the group has not educated the nation on the idea.

“We are sitting with a more than two-thirds majority of the ruling party in parliament. It might happen that I will bring in two motions and I will be outvoted there. Maybe they will not give me a chance to motivate my motion and I will be outvoted but you have to go out to educate the nation why these two issues are necessary. This is our first step – a motion or have an audience with the committee on gender equality,” Dienda explained.

Based on the group’s decision, which was to meet the committee on gender equality, Dienda advised them to write a letter to the Speaker of parliament as soon as possible requesting that they want to see the committee on gender equality.

She said the chairperson of the committee would set a date and talk to the group and assess the outcome of the meeting. Thereafter they will see if a motion is necessary.

Wings to Transcend Namibia executive director Jholerina Timbo indicated that they also face problems when seeking employment.

“A lot of people believe we want special rights when we say that we are not included in the constitution. But it is not that we want special rights, we want inclusion. The constitution says that we should not be discriminated against based on sex, creed and social standing. We want to see that there is no discrimination based on my gender identity and sexual orientation; that’s the inclusion we are talking about,” said Timbo.

Timbo said he understands they are entitled to the entirety of fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution. However, those rights are violated.

“If I go for medical attention, nurses will be calling each other and staring. I am not a clown or an exhibition. That shouldn’t give the next person the right to laugh or make fun of me or call me names in the street. We tend to forget such labels have a psychological impact on human beings,” said Timbo, adding that the country needs to be inclusive of people with different identities and sexual orientation and not make them feel boxed.

He added that there have been people before them and there will be others after them, so ignoring the issue will not make it disappear but rather there should be talks and engagement to find an amicable solution.

“We are employers, employees, breadwinners and taxpayers,” said Timbo.

Aoxamub, who has been a sex worker for 36 years said that 26 years after independence as citizens and voters they have reached a point to engage and dialogue with parliamentarians to look at the way forward for fundamental principles  guaranteed by the constitution.

“We have advocated for several decades for decriminalization of sex work in Namibia,” stated Aoxamub.

“Everything starts with the law itself. If the law is not corrected then everything will not be correct. We have looked into various legal documents that bind the national framework and there is a document written by the Legal Assistance Center in 2001 and released in 2002 titled Whose body is it?

He said they are also demanding the decriminalization of sex work and abolishment of the immoral practice Act  because that Act was made by the colonial masters.

Aoxamub also said the municipal by-laws used against them prohibit their free movement. Aoxamub said they are still waiting on the outcome of a meeting they had with City Police chief Abraham Kanime.

He said because of the municipal by-law according to the immoral Act, they are in fear as Kanime has promised that sex workers will be arrested along with their clients.

 

Sex workers and Transgender community meets DTA Acting Secretary General

mama Africa.jpg

We Met with the DTA Acting Secretary General the official opposition political party of Namibia to ask prudent questions on our human Rights as Transgender and sex worker minority communities.We were advised to write a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting a meeting with the Gender Standing Committee to dialogue and get answers to our questions,the Hon.Elma Dienda also promised to table a motion in parliament on the punitive laws of the Apartheid Era that still effect citizens of this Country in a Democratic Free Namibia.Mama Africa Executive Director of Rights Not Rescue Trust of Namibia and Jholerina Timbo Executive Director of Wings To Transcend Namibia are both Human Rights Activist and Defenders for the Minority constituencies of their communities.

Hon Dienda said she asked gender minister Doreen Sioka, when she tabled her budget, why transgenders were not included in her address. She also requested condoms to be distributed in prisons.

“They told me that for condoms to be distributed in prisons, the Act of 1980 must first be changed,” the parliamentarian stated.
HON Dienda advised the group to write to the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Peter Katjavivi and seek an audience with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender.

Amandla Awethu,Aluta Continua

Namibian religious leaders talking sexuality

Namibian religious leaders talking sexuality and the church, talking about the inclusion of LGBTI in communities of faith. Thank you to the Southern Africa Christian Initiative for organising this gathering!at AVANI Windhoek Hotel & Casino.

We are hoping for positive feedback from the outcomes of that meeting.

Each major religion has developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethics etc. These moral codes seek to regulate the situations which can give rise to sexual interest and to influence people’s sexual activities and practices.

Sexual morality has varied greatly over time and between cultures. A society’s sexual norms—standards of sexual conduct—can be linked to religious beliefs, or social and environmental conditions, or all of these. Sexuality and reproduction are fundamental elements in human interaction and society worldwide. Furthermore, “sexual restrictions” is one of the universals of culture peculiar to all human societies.[1] Accordingly, most religions have seen a need to address the question of a “proper” role for sexuality in human interactions. Different religions have different codes of sexual morality, which regulate sexual activity or assign normative values to certain sexually charged actions or thoughts.

Thus we hope that Religion and the Political landscape advance on par with the social changes in our Society.

 

ARASA and WTTN Partnership

AMAZING Partnership.Looking forward to working with ARASA for the Benefit of the transgender Community.We commit to aggressively and vigorously work and participate with ARASAs Vision,mission and values and align our mission and vision to accomplish great strides that will be for the Transgender people .VIVA Trans Movements ViVa-Executive Director -Madame Jholerina Brinnet Timbo

I trust this message finds you well. Apologies for the delay in reverting in regards to the application from Wings to Transcend Namibia to join the ARASA partnership.
I am writing to inform you that your application has been approved and to invite you to the Annual Partnership Forum, which will be hosted from 27 to 28 April in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Annual Partnership Forum convenes ARASA partners from all 18 countries in southern and east Africa for two days, with the aim of sharing progress on their work over the previous year. The APF provides an opportunity to network and explore ways to address HIV and TB-related human rights challenges our region. Following the conclusion of the APF an award ceremony will take place during a gala dinner to present the 2016 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award.
We will send out a message to all the partners shortly, to formally welcome you to the partnership. In the meantime, please acknowledge receipt of this message and confirm whether you or someone from your organisation can attend the APF later this month. Should someone be able to attend the APF, please forward their departure city and ID page of the passport.
Also, please sign the Declaration of Principles (last page of the application) and send it back to me.
Welcome to the partnership! We are very excited to have you as a partner and look forward to working with you to further human rights in the context of HIV and TB in our region.
With regards
Felicita

African Commision Shadow Report by LGBTI and Sex worker Organisations.

National Solidarity- on April 2 2016 Namibian LGBTI and Sex Workers organizations commenced and committed on  working on the Namibia Shadow Report for the African Commission due this week..The report is focusing on the Human Rights situation for LGBTI and Sex Workers. Leadership from Voices of Hope Trust(VHT), Rights Not Rescue Trust (RNRT), MPower Community Trust (MPower), Wings To Transcend Namibia(WTTN), Project Hope and Out-Right Namibia (ORN) come together at the Roof of Africa Hotel under the Direction of ARASA consultant and compiled the report.shadow report1shadow report2shadow report3shadow report4shadow report5shadow report6shadow report7shadow report8shadow report9Namibia Shadow Report African Commission Final

Office of the Ombudsman Hosted a consultative meeting with LGBTI organisations and various stakeholders

Yesterday was another day in history for the Namibian LGBTI community as a Public Education Awareness Campaign is soon to be developed by the Ombudsman’s Office and stakeholders in response to the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan. National solidarity was demonstrated as  LGBTI and civil society organisations were represented..

Wings To Transcend Namibia (WTTN)

Rights Not Rescue Trust (RNRT)

Out Right Namibia (ORN)

Tulinam

Legal Assistance Centre (LAC)

 

Rural Trans Lives Matter

Coming from a Small town Called Omaruru in the Erongo Region Namibia.Growing up being told that what i felt is/was wrong and that i couldn’t express what i felt come natural or was natural to me.That feeling of suppressing my Gender identity and expression and in so doing at my own expense and unhappiness just to please my dad,who felt that no son of his will be a moffie (a Derogatory Afrikaans Term that is used for all LGBTI community), My Dad Constantly watched me and kept a close eye on me,i couldn’t be seen playing with girls or even talking to girls. i had to man up.My Dad was a very Typical Traditional Man and at that he was a soccer star in those times so he felt i was contradicting his accomplishment at the Hot Potato at that time.he was the Ladies man and a rising soccer star ,he didn’t want his son to bring shame on his accomplishments.he would let me carry his bag filled with his training gear and i remember i was 4 or 5 at that time and one day the bag was too heavy and i fell down and i remember Clearly that he got angry and kicked me telling me that i needed to man up when i cried he almost hit me telling me to stop those Moffie things and to stop crying like a girl because i am not a girl.

My Gender Expression was forcefully taken from me.the right to self identify and be who and what i wanted to be was denied.I remember that i got so Angry because i was a slave in my own Body and in my own live.that i didn’t have any freedom.Stigma and discrimination was rife if you didn’t Conform to the norm of society,people blamed witchcraft and the Devil and said that you were a demon if you didn’t confirm to the norms of culture and Religion greatly enforced this norm by labeling me as an abomination and a generational curse.Growing up was not easy.i had to wear dresses or make my own flowing garments from curtains when i was alone at home ,because i knew if someone found out there would be consequences for this.it was so difficult to even be a bit Feminine.In a society that was not exposed to Transgender people or Internet and the ignorance of Gender variant people was in abundance.

 

Moving to the Capital was a chance for me to explore and experience life in a progressive and more tolerant Settings.BOY oh Boy was i wrong there were a lot of visible people like me but i was scared to be associated because still stigma and discrimination was rife  and  then i knew every where else ain’t no better then where i came from,as much as there was an organization.i had to conform to the norm to get employment which is still the case.As a visible Transgender person employers tell you straight up we don’t employ people like you.it is not easy especially if you didn’t complete or have some form of higher education a degree or a diploma. Looking back at the things i had to do to get to where i am today ,i am not proud of somethings that i have done but i don’t regret them because those things have made a stronger and wiser person that i am today.

Now i know what ever comes my way i can Handle it and that too shall pass.i am no longer a victim but i am a survivor in a world that constantly rejects me,a world that constantly ignores me thinking i will disappear. A world that violates my Humanity and Dignity.A world that Questions even the purest of intentions,A world that Condones hate speech ,stigma and discriminations towards me and my community.A World that turns a blind eye to Violations against me and my community.a Nation that ridicules and questions my Fundamental Human rights that are mine by virtue of birth and violate those very rights that are there to protect me.Why should my gender identity be fixed?Who said my Gender Identity can not be changed? who made those laws.

 

Angry Rural Trans Woman