HARARE: According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights without discrimination.”
These rights include all economic, social, and cultural rights such as the rights to work, social security, and an adequate standard of living, housing, health, and education amongst other rights.
However, the same cannot be said for the trans community living in Zimbabwe.
For Doc (preferred name), a transgender male, it is difficult to access basic services in Zimbabwe since the national registry only uses males and females as gender markers on identity cards.
“It’s a challenge to access anything because of the gender markers on the national identity cards. For instance, at my bank, I had to explain to the bank teller when I wanted to withdraw money. So, whenever I get to the bank and that teller is not available, I get very agitated.”
The challenges are over the board, including accessing healthcare, transport, and even voting during elections as it seems they are trapped in a different body.
“Even when I went for vaccination, they had to scrutinize my national ID and cross-check with my physical body. I had to explain again. Luckily it was a clinic we usually worked with. At the airport, you don’t even know where to start. It’s draining. At some point, others are asked to strip naked so that they check,” added Doc.
Trans Smart Trust (TST) Director, Gumisayi Bonzo said the organization is working to make sure the community understands transgender issues and to draw the police force on board so that they recognize and help the trans community in times of need.
TST is an organization that focuses on transgender and intersex person’s well-being.
“We are working on sensitizing the community and making the trans community visible. So now we are working on engaging the police even though it is not enough since we mainly work with the victim-friendly unit, which you don’t find on the ground like on roadblocks. So, we also need to sensitize other departments within the police, so that when one is violated, they can walk into a police station and say I have been violated. Thus, they will be able to get assistance,” she said.