Written by Katlego Kganyago
The amazing and inspiring Patsy P. Alley has done incredible work in promoting the visibility of LGBTQIA+ individuals in public and private corporations. Patsy is currently the spokesperson for Northern Cape’s Transport MEC. Patsy is also on the board of directors for Gender DynamiX. There are few leaders who campaign for transgender people in the political sphere and Patsy is one of them, as she has over two decades of experience in the local, provincial and national government. She is passionate about queer people occupying space in formal employment and job creation, as she has been exposed to being on National Task Teams of Skills Development and Infrastructure Development.
Katlego: What challenges are you facing in your field?
Patsy: I am an activist in different shapes and forms across different spheres.
My challenges stem from both navigating life as a Trans Woman and pushing for change in spaces that are sometimes relentlessly clinging to the erasure of queer lived experiences, vis-à-vis its translation into intentional efforts towards promoting access, growth and equality and the realisation of human rights for all people.
In our country with its constitutional democracy, one would assume that people of all ages, races, gender identities and sexual orientations would find it easier to affirm/assert themselves in work and public spaces, and have platforms underpinned by equality and non-discrimination – but it is rarely ever easy.
Besides our own determined work, we mostly count on valuable support of allies to push through. One needs determination, patience, thick skin and a teaching temperament because awareness and understanding seem to be the issue cited mostly as the reason behind the reluctance to move from acceptance, to embracing diversity.
There is still, at times, offense and indignation people in power have at your presence around a table. This inhibits positive working interactions that may lead to progressive solutions to equality ideals.
K: Who do you look up to and why?
P: There are so many queer warriors and human rights activists doing life-changing work under difficult circumstances – facing seemingly insurmountable barriers but stepping up to the plate and putting shoulder to the wheel. I could choose any of them.
I, however, choose the black queer body who lives in rural spaces facing not only poverty and inequality but hatred, scorn and violence in all its manifestations.
Our society is quite intentional about pushing trans and gender diverse people to the edges of our developmental consciousness as a nation. Spaces are so unsafe and oppressive.
Yet, there is such determination and even defiance at how we still manage to show up for life, find joy and dream in a world that chooses to rather invalidate our aspirations.
K: Where do you find the strength to pursue the work you are called for?
P: Living and working as someone ‘different’ can be tough. Pushing for change and inclusion seems slow and comes at such personal cost to the self and your own wellness. One realises how many lives depend on creating safer and embracing communities.
My strength stems from my conviction that our lives matter – we have a responsibility and the right to serve, add value, pursue our wildest dreams and live our best lives.
K: Any advice you would like to share with our readers that would love to follow your path?
P: Prioritise self-care and be intentional about living your truth. Speak even though your voice trembles. Love for the self and others. Cultivate sources of resilience. Allow room for failure. Show up for your dreams. Slay at all times. Laugh as much as you can.