Black transgender women celebrated in Women’s Month exhibition

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Lehlogonolo Machaba, Tholang Motshumi and Yaya Mavundla, photographed by Terra Dick

To commemorate Women’s Month in South Africa, an exhibition titled Layers of a Black Transgender Woman, presented and curated by transgender activist Yaya Mavundla, is now on at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail in Johannesburg. 

The exhibition – supported by Constitution Hill, Access Chapter 2 and Ingram’s – aims to create conversations around inclusivity, gender politics and identity. It also seeks to redefine what it means to be a woman and validate transgender women as women.

This groundbreaking exhibition features three black transgender women who are in the media and at the forefront of transgender visibility in South Africa. 

These are Moja Love’s The Way Ngingakhona reality star Tholang Motshumi, Miss South Africa top 30 finalist Lehlogonolo Machaba, and Mzansi Magic’s Becoming reality TV star and award-winning transgender activist Yaya Mavundla.

Mavundla collaborated with South African photographer Terra Dick to capture the three women on their own terms while Nigerian illustrator Chukwudi Udoye interpreted the images.   

The exhibition will include sensitisation of the media and government departments – such as Police, Health, Home Affairs and Education – where black transgender women face ongoing challenges. 

The community will also be able to explore the struggles of black transgender women and the importance of pronouns, inclusivity and understanding gender identity and politics through weekly dialogues. 

“My agenda is to address issues of black transgender women in South Africa, create space for inclusion and further say that transgender women are women,” asserted Mavundla. 

She added that it is important to get that message across while the country is celebrating Women’s Month. 

Mavundla said she is using her platform “to make sure that transgender women are respected as women and are deserving of same spaces as all women and further be given the same opportunities as all women.”

Illustration by Chukwudi Udoye

The Layers of a Black Transgender Woman exhibition runs until the 14th of September 2021 at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail.

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