International Update: An Indian Transgender Newsreader and an African Transgender Poster Girl

I have two international updates for you all, dear readers, to remind us of the global struggle for our rights, and of the global narrative of our loosely interwoven stories.

The first news article which I’m sharing is the story of Padmini Prakashi, India’s first transgender television presenter. Happily married with an adopted son and a good job, Padmini is now campaigning for free sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) for all transgender Indians. To quote her from the article:

‘We’re born into the wrong body, it’s not our fault,’ she said. ‘I know so many transgenders who are struggling to pay for surgery. Their lives are frozen in time because of the costs involved. This is not our fault; free surgery should be available for all. It should be our right, along with counselling[sic] and guidance classes and education on sexual diseases. We’re not given any help, no one is trying to assist our community.’

My second article tells the story of Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who recently fled to Africa to avoid a 14-year sentence in her home country of Malawi over becoming engaged to a man.

Tiwonge’s story is a different one, including a belief that her earlier existence as a man was due to a witch’s curse, and when a tribal healer cured her of the curse, she felt she had to start living as a woman. Her trial (where she was forced to attend despite being sick with malaria) was ended when the President, under intense internationally pressure, decided to forgive her “crime.” Unfortunately her boyfriend soon left her for a prostitute, and she now lives on the verge of complete poverty in South Africa, having fled intense discrimination from her village in Malawi.

Two women on different continents, both transgender, and both fighting for transgender rights – in the case of Padmini for her community, and in the case of Tiwonge for herself.

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