GENDER POLITICS

Press Release: Curbing Public Transphobia in South Africa

PRESS RELEASE FROM GENDER DYNAMIX AND PARTNERS

22 May 2012

A complaint has been laid with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa calling for the enforcement of its code of conduct after two radio presenters made derogatory and dehumanizing statements about a transgender person on air.

The two presenters from Highveld Stereo 94.7, a radio station in Johannesburg, South Africa, were commenting on the recent media furor regarding the disqualification of Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova for being transgendered. The two made offensive comments referring to Talackova as an ‘it’ and suggesting that she may have hidden her male ‘bits’ during the swim suit competition.

The complaint outlines that this type of behavior and attitude fuels the hatred experienced by many transgender people in South Africa. It also perpetuates negative stereotypes to the stations listener base, some of whom are transgender.

Gender DynamiX (GDX) along with partners Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA), Social Health and Empowerment Coalition for Trans women in Africa (SHE), Transitioning Africa (TA) and Support Initiative for people with Congenital Disorders-Uganda (SIPD-U) have strongly endorsed the complaint.

LeighAnn van der Merwe, Coordinator for SHE: “transgender women transition into femininity with a complex range of problems and face severe levels of discrimination. Part of what makes transgender women want to take part in beauty pageants, is to affirm their new founded gender identity and as a celebration of their femininity. What appalls me about the radio personalities’ comments was the manner in which he dehumanized a transgender woman. Before beauty titles, careers, social roles, before anything else, we are human beings, as transgender women. When prominent people belittle by us by means of objectification, it becomes very concerning. Whatever happened to the basic human right to dignity afforded to all citizens by our constitution?”

When asked what prompted her to start the petition Adrienne Visser said that after hearing the show that night she was appalled by the behavior of the presenters. “We cannot allow people in these kinds of positions to create this kind of perception in the general public. To allow mainstream media to paint this kind of image is out of touch with reality. What the presenter has effectively done, is dehumanize an amazing girl who by rights has had to earn her gender, sex, and sexuality all of which are given to the rest of the world for free at birth. The thing everyone else takes for granted, she has had to fight for and prove every day of her life”

A court tribunal date has been set for the 5th of June.

If you wish to support this campaign please sign the petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/dehumanizing-comments-made-by-radio-personality-on-air#

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