An American’s View of Trans* Emergence in Africa and Feminist Responses

  • Chloe Schwenke
Part of the Gender, Development and Social Change book series (GDSC)


Transgender is now one of the more contested issues in feminist theory and practice. In this chapter I argue along with Deyi that “Transgender feminists are not agents of patriarchy or a mockery to feminism.” Instead they need to be seen as “a celebration of the central principles that feminists have long sought to have recognized … that self-determination is a principle worth fighting for, that we as feminists in all body forms have become a social movement that can create spaces that enable those that are differently gendered to express their true selves” (Deyi 2012). As Van der Merwe poignantly states, “I am that transgender woman featured in so many Ph.D dissertations, HIV research, and documentation of violent experiences [but] I have a face, I have a name, and I have an identity.” In this chapter I also argue along with Van der Merwe that “We transgender women must be seen in our racial, class, and other diversities. Ultimately, it is we who are the relevant stakeholders in our struggle for equality and rights” (Van der Merwe and Leigh 2013).


Gender Identity Gender Equality Feminist Theory African Woman Female Genital Cutting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Charlesworth, Hilary. (2000). Martha Nussbaum’s Feminist Internationalism. Ethics Vol. 111, No. 1. University of Chicago Press. 64–78.Google Scholar
  2. Deyi, Busi. (2012). Transfeminist blog of 5 March 2012. Unpacking Transgender Feminism.
  3. Fallon, Amy. (2010). Malawi frees jailed gay couple. The Guardian, 29 May 2010.
  4. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. (2000). Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. Feinberg, Leslie. (1996). Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Greer, Germaine. (2009). Caster Semenya sex row: What makes a woman? The Guardian, 20 August 20, 2009.Google Scholar
  7. Gupta, Rahila. (2013). Open Democracy blog of 16 April 2013, Transgender: The challenge to feminist politics,
  8. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. (2008). Africa: Transgender Activists Attend Historic Gathering, Press release dated 19 December 2008.
  9. Jeffreys, Sheila. (2011). Gender Trender article of 20 April 2011. The McCarthyism of Transgender and the Sterilization of Transgender Children.
  10. Klein, Thamar. (2009). Intersex and Transgender Activism in South Africa. Liminalis, March 2009.
  11. Lugones, Maria. (1987). Playfulness, ‘World-Travelling,’and Loving Perception, Hypatia 2. 3–19.Google Scholar
  12. Mohanty, Chandra. (1991). Cartographies of Struggle, Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by Chandra Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.1–47.Google Scholar
  13. Roberts, JoAnne. (1996). International Bill of Gender Rights, International Bill of Gender Rights Project, Cooperstown, NY
  14. Sachikonye, Tawanda. (2013). The African Feminism Debate: A Brief Overview. Consultancy Africa Intelligence.
  15. Serano, Julia. (2007). Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.Google Scholar
  16. Van der Merwe, Leigh Ann. (2013). There is a Voice that is Silent from Africa, African Perspectives Newsletter. New York: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Article dated January 17, 2014.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chloe Schwenke
    • 1
  1. 1.McCourt School of Public PolicyGeorgetown UniversityOlneyUSA

Personalised recommendations