Sex & Gender

feature: cape town activists attend intersectional feminist dialogue hosted by queer trans activist hejin kim – faces & thoughts

May 5, 2016

This past Sunday in Cape Town,South Africa, a discussion around the F-WORD took place. F standing for Feminism was hosted by HeJin Kim a Trans Queer Activist & Fallist who has been at the front lines of the Rhodes Must Fall Student Movement. Kim has worked extensively on transgender sex worker, sexual health and reproductive rights issues. The purpose of the discussion was to engage with Feminism – particularly African, Trans and Black Feminism. The discussion was open to CIS and Trans women,non-binary and gender non-conforming people of color.

Three speakers opened the discussion – Mbali Matandela, activist with Rhodes Must Fall and Black feminist,Yaliwe Clarke, lecturer at the African Gender Institute and Black feminist,Yaliwe Clarke, lecturer at the African Gender Institute and Sepotokele Elaine Katlego Advocacy Coordinator at Gender DynamiX.

By Andiswa Mkosi*, AFROPUNK contributor

Below are some of the thoughts attendees had about the discussion:

“Feminism must come to a point where it understands that gender binary itself is problematic.Trans issues fight for woman’s issues,we need to understand that trans issues affects everybody not just trans people.We fight against a gender oppression that affects every woman.Sex workers rights are beneficial to everyone who is oppressed by Patriarchy,everyone who is oppressed b patriarchy can be called a hoe or a prostitute. Similarly with trans rights it does not just benefit trans rights and that is what alot of people do not understand.” – HeJin Kim  “I found the talk very opening, specifically as a cisgendered woman hearing the experiences of transgendered woman and gender non conforming. Ibecame even more aware of my privilege, I understand that I need to allow them space to navigate and search for their safe spaces and conclusions as queer trans black woman in a capitalist oppressive environment.” – Khanyisa Pinini “I loved the talk,definitely think it’s really important to understand how we look at Feminism when dealing with different types of people, their different issues and their struggles.What I found most interesting was the conversation about whether cisheterosexual people can adopt the pronoun ‘they’ to try and eradicate this gendered hers and his.Mainly because during the talk I felt now is the time for me to change it and say I identify as ‘they,them’ not because I feel connected to both male and female but because I don’t want to be seen as a gendered person.It would be so great to get to the point where there is no need for a gender at all, where one can have sex with whomever they want and not be referred to as gay/straight.End of the day no one is a gender you are just attracted to whoever.” – Jabu Newman
“For me it was more of people sharing their experiences with Feminism and their beliefs around gender equality.My challenge is finding out how we can go out there and make people aware that gender equality is something that we need in decolonisation and what intersectionality really means but I guess its more about sharing experiences than teaching, which is sometimes seen as forcing knowledge on people.” – Nolusindiso Mpoyiya “What I took from this is that I should know my safe space and that I should not just allow anyone in that space.” – Thulisa
“It was kind of everything I expected it to be in terms of the attendance which is the ‘young woke ones’. It was the choir preaching to the converted, I don’t feel like I walked away with either converting something or taught something to someone who was in the dark. It was however interesting because of the trans community which was part of the conversation.I am an activist for gay rights so I thought if anything else I want to be here because I understand the plight of the black woman because I am black and I am female but I cannot even come close to understanding what it means to be trans in addition to everything else.It was a cool space I like it but its everything Cape Town usually is,like minded people but I would not expect someone who is not interested in Feminism to be like let me go to a Feminist event.” – Zanele Skosana
 “A big part of Feminism has to do with Africanity,it has to do with the big colonial project.Some came with the Portugese, the French,the Italians and the Arabics but then we had our own,which was mixed up with Matriarchy and Patriarchy.It’s in our faces now as well.” – Yaliwa Clarke

“When I was thinking about what I would say today,I thought why do you think you can be the voice of black feminism?! I then decided to just tell my experience and to explore the politics of naming.There is a reason behind the fact I do not call myself an African Feminist although I draw a lot from African Feminism.In terms of African Feminism,it always existed on the continent,Its one of those things that have been extracted like our minerals,like our languages they also took systems from us. There is a tendency for white people to claim Africaness. I don t believe that white people can be African because they don’t have the type of histories we have on this continent.If anything Black Feminism relates to the global self and the African Diaspora but not at all white people.Black Feminism sort of makes it exclusive enough for me to be in black spaces but to also talk about Feminism,” – Mbali Matandela