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15 August 2015

Gender DynamiX: Problematic reporting by Sowetan of ANC Women's League resolution to extend membership to trans women

Press Statement - Gender DynamiX

14 August 2015 

Gender DynamiX would like to note with alarm the problematic reporting by the Sowetan newspaper on the ANC Women’s League resolution to extend membership to transgender women. We refer to the issue dated on the Tuesday, 11 August 2015.[1]  Although we celebrate the progressive resolution that reflects on gender diversity and acknowledges the exclusion of transgender women from political participation.[2] We also note with a deep sense of regret the reporting by the Sowetan journalist Moipone Malefane.

 Malefane’s reporting shows a deep level of ignorance of transgender persons and issues around gender identity. Most alarming is that the editing body of the newspaper did not see it fit to correct the misrepresentation of transgender women by the journalist. This kind of reporting comes in the face of continued marginalisation and erasure of transgender women and the transgender movement in South Africa. Transgender women are the most marginalised and face increasing levels of violence and discrimination. It is unfortunate that the newspaper chose to continue to marginalise this group.

 Lastly Malefane’s reporting has overshadowed a progressive move by a prominent political party with the consequence of erasing a platform which was highly needed by transgender women to air their economic, political and social views. The Sowetan’s reporting has violently erased the voices of transgender women and gender variant persons.

 The lack of sensitivity and respect on the reporting on a discriminated and traumatised community is alarmingly unprofessional. This is because such journalistic laziness is inexcusable as it contributes to the aggression perpetuated and reproduced against gender minorities. Sowetan has a social and a constitutional responsibility as a media establishment that facilitates and influences public perceptions on a wide range of views, ideas and communities. Therefore it must handle that responsibility in a way that is consistent with journalistic ethics, integrity and uphold our constitutional values.  

The Sowetan must take full responsibility and write an apology and a retraction. It is through carelessly written articles that transgender people are humiliated, erased and denigrated. The media establishment(s) (not only Sowetan) must invest in training and sensitization education on how to report on marginalised gender and sexual minorities. It will be in those efforts that we as society begin to destroy the epidemic of violence against gender minorities in different areas and sectors of our work. This is a call to Sowetan and other newspaper publications to be responsible citizens.

 Siyabonga, Dankie, Thank you






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