Advertisement

Shifting Borderlands and Becoming a Gender Refugee

  • B Camminga
Chapter
Part of the Global Queer Politics book series (GQP)

Abstract

Key to both transgender and refugee experience is migration. For refugees, migration is considered constitutive of a physical, coerced movement, away from home, traversing borders in an effort to reach safety. As a dominant element within transgender, migration, though originating in work regarding transsexuality, has come to be broadly theorised as a linear, largely metaphorical experience, structured by the ‘homes’ of man/womanhood. A central critique to this framing has been that the predominant subject of this narrative is Anglo-American, white, and middle class. This chapter explores how, when, and under what circumstances transgender-identified individuals from countries in Africa are forced to journey and how they come to seek refuge in South Africa specifically. Drawing on decolonial thought this chapter also considers what forced migration in relation to dominant transgender narratives might reveal about the complexity of transgender in this context. Utilising the notions of ‘shifting’ and ‘discomfort’ as analytics, I suggest that South Africa represents a particular understanding of freedom due to widespread knowledge of its unique constitutional precepts. Emphasising how the state in gender refugees’ countries of origin, which sanctions the possibility of death for transgender people as exemplary subjects, plays a transformative role in the decision to flee.

References

  1. Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, Sara. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. New York: Routledge, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aizura, Aren Z. ‘Transgender Travel Narratives’. In Transgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders and Politics of Transition, edited by Trystan T. Cotten, 139–156. New York: Routledge, 2012.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York and London: Verso Books, 2006.Google Scholar
  5. Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987.Google Scholar
  6. ———. ‘(Un)Natural Bridges, (Un)Safe Spaces’. In This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and AnaLouise Keating, 1–5. New York: Routledge, 2013.Google Scholar
  7. Boyd, Nan Alamilla. ‘Bodies in Motion: Lesbian and Transsexual Histories’. In The Transgender Studies Reader, edited by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle, 420–434. New York: Routledge, 2006.Google Scholar
  8. Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge, 1993.Google Scholar
  9. Downey, Anthony. ‘Exemplary Subjects: Camps and the Politics of Representation’. In Giorgio Agamben – Legal, Political and Philosophical Perspectives, edited by Tom Frost, 119–142. Oxon: Routledge, 2013.Google Scholar
  10. ‘Eshe’. Interview with ‘Eshe’, 2008. ‘Gender Dynamix Collection – GAL108’. Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Archive William Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality: 1. London: Penguin Books, 1998.Google Scholar
  12. Franke, Katherine. ‘Sexual Tensions of Post-Empire’. Studies in Law, Politics and Society 33 (2004): 63–88.Google Scholar
  13. Halberstam, Jack. Female Masculinity. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  14. Holler, Christian, and Achille Mbembe. ‘Africa in Motion: An Interview with the Post-Colonialism Theoretician Achille Mbembe | Mute’. Metamute, 17 March 2007. http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/africa-motion-interview-post-colonialism-theoretician-achille-mbembe.
  15. Kaggwa, Julius. ‘Intersex the Forgottoen Constituency’. In African Sexualities Reader, edited by Sylvia Tamale, 231–237. Cape Town: Pambakuza Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  16. Lamble, Sarah. ‘Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: The Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance’. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 5, no. 1 (2008): 24–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mbembe, Achille. ‘Necropolitics’. Translated by Meintjies Libby. Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 11–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———. On the Postcolony. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  19. Meadow, Tey. ‘“A Rose Is a Rose”: On Producing Legal Gender Classifications’. Gender & Society 24, no. 6 (December 2010): 814–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mirzoeff, Nicholas. ‘The Sea and the Land: Biopower and Visuality from Slavery to Katrina’. Culture, Theory and Critique 50, no. 2–3 (2009): 289–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moreno, Alumine. ‘Open Space: The Politics of Visibility and the GLTTTBI Movement in Argentina’. Feminist Review, no. 89 (2008): 138–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mukasa, Victor. ‘On Transgender Human Rights Issues in Africa’. Pambazuka, 7 December 2006. http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/38727.
  23. Mukasa, Victor, and Carsten Balzer. ‘“People Have Realized the Need for an African Trans Movement” Interview with Victor Mukasa, African Trans Activist Representing IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) and TITs Uganda (Transgenders Intersex Transsexuals Uganda)’. Liminalis, no. 3 (2009): 122–27.Google Scholar
  24. Mukasa, Victor, and Rev. Canon Albert Ogle. ‘Washington National Cathedral: Information about LGBT Rights Abroad: The Spirit of 76’. Washington National Cathedral, 2013. http://www.nationalcathedral.org/events/SF20130407.shtml.
  25. Namaste, Vivian K. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  26. Ntluli, Busisiwe. ‘The Stories of Several LGBTI Africans Persecuted for Being Born LGBTI’. Special Assignment. Cape Town: South African Broadcasting Corporation, 20 October 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtAa4ClzL14.
  27. Prosser, Jay. Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  28. Reuters. ‘Gambia’s Jammeh Calls Gays “Vermin”, Says to Fight like Mosquitoes’. Yahoo News, 18 February 2014. https://www.yahoo.com/news/gambia-39-jammeh-calls-gays-39-vermin-39-185834391.html?ref=gs.
  29. Romesburg, Don. ‘Rae Bourbon’s Life in Motion’. In Transgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders and Politics of Transition, edited by Trystan T. Cotten, 119–135. New York: Routledge, 2012.Google Scholar
  30. ‘Sasha’. Interview with ‘Sasha’, 2008. ‘Gender Dynamix Collection – GAL108’. Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Archive William Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  31. Stone, Sandy. ‘The “Empire” Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto’. In The Transgender Studies Reader, edited by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle, 221–235. New York: Routledge, 2006.Google Scholar
  32. Stryker, Susan. ‘My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix’. In The Transgender Studies Reader, edited by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle, 244–256. New York: Routledge, 2006.Google Scholar
  33. Thobani, Sunera. ‘Empire, Bare Life and the Constitution of Whiteness Sovereignty in the Age of Terror’. Borderlands 11, no. 1 (2012): 1–30.Google Scholar
  34. Wallström, Jonny von. A Ugandan Transgender Girl Fight for Her Right to Love – Episode 1. The Pearl of Africa, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR9n4Q-OnLI.
  35. ———. Have You Had to Convince People You’re a Transgender Woman? – Episode 5. The Pearl of Africa, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlZjUpUyxPA.
  36. Xtra Staff. ‘Pride Toronto’s International Grand Marshal Victor J Mukasa’. Xtraonline, 2009. http://youtu.be/YL8JtDCw_Cw.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • B Camminga
    • 1
  1. 1.African Centre for Migration and SocietyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations