Last Conversations event funds Cape Town transgender group

Andrew Howard

After contributing almost R130,000 towards the community over the years, the monthly Conversations LGBTI+ networking events have come to an end.

Earlier this month, representatives from Gender Dynamix attended the final Conversations event at Gate69 on Bree Street in the Cape Town CBD to take receipt of a cheque for R10,000.

Gender Dynamix, founded in 2005 and based in Observatory, was the first African-based not-for-profit organisation to focus on the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

To achieve its aims, the organisation undertakes a wide range of activities which include legal and policy reform advocacy, access to gender affirming health care services and training of medical professionals to deliver gender affirming healthcare services to patients.

Andrew Howard, founder and Director of Conversations, said he chose Gender Dynamix as a beneficiary after he became aware of “the immense challenges and discrimination that transgender and gender non-conforming people face in their everyday lives, for example, when trying to access healthcare and finding work”.

Veronica Adriaanse, Programmes Manager at Gender Dynamix, thanked Conversations for the contribution: “The donation will be used to further the work of the organisation in advancing the human rights of trans and gender non conforming persons in the region.”

The money raised for Gender Dynamix partly came from the door charge paid by the attendees at Conversations gatherings from November 2016 to August 2017.

Conversations, launched in October 2013, was a monthly networking and social event for LGBTI+ professionals living and working in and around Cape Town. It was also socially responsible by raising money for and awareness of local charities. Over four years, 48 highly successful events were held in upmarket hotels, bars and restaurants stretching from Newlands to Camps Bay.

There were also a series of Conversations events in Johannesburg, held between November 2014 and November 2016. In total, R128,000 was raised for organisations including Pride Shelter Trust, Goedgedacht, Triangle Project, Gender Dynamix and PandaCrew.

The 48th Conversations event on September 2 was sadly the last as the British-born Howard has had to return to the UK for family reasons and due to work issues.

However, he plans to keep the Conversations Facebook pages in Cape Town and Johannesburg going by continuing to use them to promote both LGBTI+ organisations and causes and LGBTI+ owned and run businesses in South Africa.

In the longer term, Howard would like to return to Cape Town to resurrect the monthly events. “I would like to thank all those who attended the Conversations events during the fundraising period,” he said.” Without their support for this great cause, this fundraising effort would not have been possible.”

Howard’s valuable contribution to the LGBTI+ community will be missed.

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