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Trans: Transgender Life Stories from South Africa

Ruth Morgan, Charl Marais & Joy Rosemary Wellbeloved

Trans: Transgender Life Stories from South Africa takes the reader on a journey into the many worlds inhabited by transgender South Africans. The life stories recounted in this collection are both inspiring and compelling, and they reveal the courage and strength of each of the storytellers involved. The narratives detail the constant challenges of living in a country that, despite its progressive constitution, is still host to myriad prejudices and misunderstandings when it comes to transgender people.

With more than twenty original voices, the book is a journal of shared experiences for trans people and a fascinating point of departure for interested members of the public. The contributors who 'transitioned, are transitioning or will transition' have all been actively involved in the process of making the book and have a great deal to say about their personal experiences. Their illuminating and touching life stories are complemented by the extraordinary photographs by renowned photographer Robert Hamblin.

Many of the stories collected in Trans touch on the isolation that transgender people often feel in their communities. Transgender issues are a taboo subject for discussion, and are either ignored by the media or covered in an invasive, insensitive and sensationalist way. The stories here stress the need to provide accurate information, to counter negative stereotypes, to reduce discrimination and to provide transgender people with honest representations of their lives.

About the editors


Ruth Morgan is currently a lecturer in the South African Sign Language Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was the director of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) from 2002–2008. She has a PhD in linguistic anthropology from The American University, Washington D.C. Her work has focused on collecting and analysing life stories of LGBTI and Deaf people for the past twenty years.

Charl Marais is the secretary of the Gender Dynamix Board. Charl is a trans man and a journalist.

Joy Wellbeloved, known as the 'Cat Lady', is employed by her four cats. Retired from the IT industry, she spends her time reading, listening to classical music and dreaming of taking stunning wildlife photographs. Joy is a trans woman who transitioned in 1985.


Publisher: Fanele, an imprint of Jacana Media
ISBN: 9781920196226
Format: paperback
Pages: 244 pp