TRANSSWATI A MINORITY AMONGST MINORITIES

TransSwati is the first and only trans-led non-profit organisation committed to serving, supporting, and liberating the TGNC community in Eswatini. The organisation was informally founded in 2016 by transgender Swati activists who were determined to promote the dignity and unity of the local trans community. TransSwati envisions countrywide equality for transgender people in access to all public services. Our mission is to improve the lives of TGNC individuals across Eswatini by empowering them on their rights and creating awareness and knowledge on the existence of transgender people in the country. Through all of our planned programming, we aim to raise awareness, incorporate social justice, fight discrimination, and advocate for equal and equitable rights for all TGNC individuals. When working to address barriers to equality, we take an intersectional approach by examining the impacts of gender, class, education and socioeconomic status. Our devoted staff is committed to collaborating with other local organisations to further build and capacitate a united trans community. At TransSwati we are currently doing awareness raising with police officers, health-care workers, empowering trans diverse people on human rights and building capacity within the trans diverse community as well as providing psychosocial support and emergency services should there be a need. 

 

Staff

 

TransSwati has 3 staff members: Pinty Dludlu being the founding executive Director, Melvin Dlamini, a part-time programmes officer and Nhlanhla Magagula the finance officer.

 

Location

 

TransSwati is located in the hub of the country, Manzini and that is where there is a bigger number of the trans community. Found in AMICCALL offices, corner of Nkoseluhlaza and Sandlane streets.

 

Challenges

 

  • Financial resources – TransSwati is run on ad-hoc basis, this is due to lack of financial resources. As a result we cannot execute all activities as we would like to. This also means staff may work voluntarily as there would be no funds to pay staff. Financial resources also empower the staff as they are able to keep life going when they get paid.
  • Shortage of staff – due to a lack of financial resources, TransSwati has only 3 staff members and the Executive Director being the only one that works on a fulltime basis, this can only mean a burden of the work to her as she has to undertake most of the work.
  • Lack of infrastructure – the lack of financial resources means there is less equipment to be utilised at TransSwati which slows down working processes at times.
  • Working in a space with no policies for LGBTIQ people – it is not that easy getting into all the spaces we would like to reach as an organisation due to religious and cultural beliefs. Some spaces become so impenetrable and the lack of policies does perpetuate stigma towards trans diverse people in the country.
  • Lack of programming for trans diverse people from government – there are no programmes run for trans diverse people, however there are programs meant for Men who have sex with men. This creates a gap and further discrimination as MSM feel more important and recognised than trans diverse people whereas the trans community is more at risk than the rest of the LGBTIQ acronym representation. Organisations that have brought support for key populations, leave out the trans community which is a blow for TransSwati.
  • Stigma and discrimination – most of it comes from LGBTIQ organisations. The meeting spaces that bring TransSwati together¬† have become toxic as trans identities would be often jeered and treated with disdain. This behaviour makes it difficult for trans diverse people to openly identify as trans and come into trans spaces as a result erasing trans visibilty.
  • Lack of proper skills – there is a gap in the capacity at TransSwati and that is the reason there is staff shortage and may delay work progress.
  • Lack of resources – we often times work out of office, this may be way far from the city and the use of public transport makes it hard reaching in time and some of the equipment may get lost or damaged by the time we reach the destination. Having an organisation vehicle would aid travelling. We may miss our audience or even meetings due to lack of resources such as computers as there is only one that is shared.
  • Lack of proper recognition from other LGBTIQ organisations, that TransSwati is trans-led should be recognised and respected, we feel we should be engaged in trans activities or if TransSwati affilliates are invited by another organisation for a trans activity, TransSwati should know and engaging TransSwati in a trans specific activity is giving TransSwati recognition as we work in a very small country with a small population of trans identifying people. This erases the visibility of TransSwati.

 

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