A groundbreaking DVD of short digital stories created by transgender and gender non-conforming people in South Africa will be released this weekend.
The TRANSformations DVD explores the lives and experiences of the participants and their resilience in the face of considerable adversity. The project is a collaboration between Gender DynamiX, Women’sNet and Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA).
“There is an alarming lack of awareness found across South African society of the issues affecting transgender and gender non-conforming people, and a failure to embrace them,” said Liesl Theron, director of Gender DynamiX. “I believe this project provides us with an important tool to begin changing this situation.”
The project brought together a diverse group of transgender and gender non-conforming people for a five day workshop during which they created multimedia digital stories, using a range of computer software, based on their own words, text and pictures.
Said Women’sNet director Sally-Jean Shackleton, “In helping participants create their own short digital stories, the project ensured that they were able to tell their stories on their own terms. Digital stories are an important tool for the transgender community in South Africa to reach out to the wider public.”
“One of the problems facing any oral history project,” said Anthony Manion, GALA director, “is how to make sure that the life stories don’t just sit in a box in the archives, but actually get used to promote dialogue in the community. One of the reasons I am so excited about this project is that it packages the stories of transgender South Africans in a way that is accessible, informative and engaging for teachers and other service providers but that is still completely on the participants’ own terms.”
The project marks the second time that Gender DynamiX, Women’sNet and GALA have collaborated, following a body mapping project with transgender and gender non-conforming people that ended with an exhibition of art work at Constitution Hill in 2007.
The launch of the DVD takes place on Saturday, 28 February from 7pm at Zietsies in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.