Representing trans diverse people in sensitizations at healthcare facilities

By Dumisani Dube

They call it the peak of the country, a place called Bulembu in Eswatini, a girl was born. Upon completion of her high school, Siphokati Dludlu enrolled for a BA in Humanities with the University of Swaziland. Unfortunately, she quit when she was doing her third year due to transphobic remarks from her varsity peers and teachers. However, she did not give up on her education as she enrolled at Stella Nursing College for a Certificate in Ancillary Heath Care.

According to Pinty, being Trans in Eswatini means being unable to do certain things due to the stigma attached and trans people cannot participate using the gender they identify with. Trans people cannot access gender-affirming health services, one cannot adopt as there are no policies to support this. All this makes it difficult for a trans person in the country to have legal recognition and have the right gender marker. They face stigma and discrimination. 

Pinty has fought hard to have gender-affirming health care introduced in mobile community centers through the Epic programme supported by FHI360. Pinty serves as the founder & Executive Director of TransSwati in eSwatini, an organisation founded in 2016. TransSwati is working towards making the environment conducive for Trans people. They are creating safe spaces for trans diverse persons through awareness and engaging in various dialogues. “We want to create a future where all trans diverse people have equitable access to all services and that they are free from discrimination and are secure in in society.” Pinty says

Pinty is also an ambassador for the trans community, she is the point of contact and a trusted confidante for trans people in her country. In 2014 she won Miss Sexual Diversity against 9 other contestants. What did it mean? To Pinty this meant a strong, proud individual who was bold about their sexuality, and one who embraced her gender identity with pride. Winning this pageant meant Pinty would be involved in fundraising for the needy, giving back to society. During her reign she worked with several other charities of goodwill. 

Pinty is a Mandela Washington alumnus of 2018, this is a fellowship for young leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa region. She did her internship at Fenway health care institute in Boston, a centre for LGBTI health needs. Dludlu is also a Young African Leaders Initiative alumnus of 2017 for Sub-Saharan Africa. In both fellowships she was in civic leadership. 

Prior to her current position, she worked for 2 years at CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative) as a data collector at clinical level and also as a transcriber, where she translated scripts from siSwati to English when PreP was piloted in the country. She also worked for PSI (Population Service International) for 4 years; 2 years as a clinical receptionist and the other 2 years as a data enumerator. 

Pinty has been a peer research assistant at Rock of Hope in 2014 in the “Exploring performance ethnography as an innovative approach to challenge stigma and promote empowerment among sexual minorities in Eswatini, South Africa and Lesotho research study. 

Ms Dludlu is not new to health care system, she has practiced with Women and Children as a nurse aid in 2013, and served as a volunteer for 2 months in 2013 at AIDS Health Foundation (AHF) in eSwatini at the pharmacy, where she dispensed medication to patients.

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