In an astonishing display of ignorance, the Sowetan newspaper has revealed that it believes that gay men are transgender women.
On the weekend, the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) announced at its 12th National Conference that it will welcome transgender women in its ranks.
The Sowetan on Tuesday, however, reported the news under the bizarre front page headline of “Gays can join ANC Women’s League”.
And it wasn’t just the headline that was troubling.
Moipone Malefane, the newspaper’s political editor, went on to use the terms “gay” and “transgender” interchangeably in her story.
She said that “the ANC Women’s League has resolved to grant membership to men who have changed gender to become women.”
She also wrote of “transgender men” being allowed into the ANCWL instead of “transgender women”.
Malefane further stated that national executive committee member Pammy Majodina “confirmed the league’s resolution on gay men.”
With confusion about the difference between sexuality and gender identity common among the public, it’s frightening that a senior journalist could have such garbled understanding of these issues; her story only serving to add to widespread ignorance.
The story perpetuates the idea that gay men want to be women and Malefane fails to grasp that transgender people, like cisgender people, can be gay, bisexual or straight.
The ANCWL responded to the article with a clarifying statement, pointing out that both heterosexual and homosexual women have always been welcomed in the organisation.
It said that it was “the issue of opening up membership to the transgender community” that was addressed.
The league explained that “the term transgender describes people who experience a gender identity that is different to the sex ascribed to them by being born either as a boy or a girl when everything else other than their physical bodies indicate that they are of the opposite sex.”
It added that “transgender people are discriminated against, subjected to violence and excluded from the economy” and that “the League should be home for all women including transgender women.”
Mambaonline has e-mailed Malefane at the Sowetan for comment.