Radio presenter, author and activist Criselda Kananda-Dudumashe is no longer an ambassador for the Higher Education and Training HIV/ AIDS programme (HEAIDS) after she was accused of making transphobic comments.
According to HEAIDS, Dudumashe made the offensive remarks in her role as a facilitator during its Sexual and Gender Based Violence Dialogue on Friday, at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.
The Citizen reported that she urged men to stand up at one point, and when not all did she allegedly quipped: “Even if you are a ‘she’ man…as long as you’ve got a dick between your legs you are a man…so stand up…”
At another point during the dialogue, Dudumashe also allegedly said: “All the men should take off their hats for the national anthem…. If you’re confused about being a man, look between your legs.”
In a statement, HEAIDS condemned Dudumashe’s “hurtful” comments and announced that it had relieved her of her duties as a HEAIDS ambassador.
“We are highly disappointed by these remarks,” said the organisation. “In this context, HEAIDS further extends sincerest apologies to everyone affected by these remarks.”
Meanwhile, Dudumashe has denied she made any transphobic remarks, calling the allegations “lies”. She told Times Live:
“I asked men to stand up to show their support for fighting gender-based violence but I would never use such language or make such a suggestion… I would never intentionally offend anyone based on their gender or how they identify. I did not mean to ridicule anyone.”
Dudumashe also claimed to The Citizen that the furore was a smear campaign against her following her recent appointment to the board of the South African National Aids Council [Sanac].
Earlier, Dudumashe came under fire for appearing to defend former deputy minister of education and training, Mduduzi Manana, who has been charged with assaulting two women at a Johannesburg nightclub. In a now deleted post, she expressed her disappointment at his actions but then provided a long list of all his good work.
She later clarified: “To those who read my post… and still believed I am condoning Mduduzi Manana’s abusive behavior I humbly apologize that’s not the posts’ intention.”