Christina Engela's picture

Bloed Skande

Bloed Skande - in Afrikaans, literally translated, means "blood scandal" - and yes, I think what is being done to the dignity, equality and humanity of gay and transgender people wherever discrimination is being enforced by blood services, is nothing less than scandalous.

I read the linked article "Transgender blood donors in New Zealand" on the topic of discrimination against gay and transsexual or transgender blood donors in New Zealand. The idiotic reasoning employed by the NZ blood service appears to match the callous stupidity of our own here in South Africa - although it must be said that while NZ employs a 5 year ban on such blood donors, SA "only" imposes a 6 month ban - although, no matter which way you slice the pie, if you are a gay male or transsexual or transgender individual who wishes to be a full-time blood donor - you are still expected to remain celibate as long as you intend being a blood donor.

The article was written by a transsexual New Zealander who encountered this prejudice and irrational thinking present in the NZ policy and laid it out in her article. "The 5 year penalty [on transsexual blood donors] was put in place," She said "because until I have my vaginoplasty done, all sex with my [heterosexual] boyfriend is considered homosexual . But upon gaining a vagina, sex with my boyfriend magically becomes heterosexual!"

Here is the clincher: "I asked whether or not I could engage in anal sex after my surgery. The answer was yes, it would be no different to a cis woman having anal sex (i.e. it [anal sex] does not disqualify women from donating blood). Again, the ownership of a vagina magically qualifies me, regardless of how I have intercourse."
Christina Engela's picture

Mistaken Gender Identity

Did you see the article about the woman misidentified as transsexual and thrown into jail for 7 months with men?

I think it should be pointed out that it's not so nice to be treated like us, is it? And therefore it's not nice the way WE are being treated - DESPITE provisions in existing laws that supposedly protect people from this sort of treatment.

Apparently some typically over-qualified genius in the employ of the State mistyped her name as "Denis" - when she was actually Denise. (Yes, that's right, with an "e" - as in "education") That one slip of a key could easily have cost this woman her life. In point of fact, I would say that her life has been effectively ruined. Yes, she was detained on suspicion of having committed a crime - but now, despite having been cleared in court of all charges - she is a multiple rape victim, has suffered various forms of abuse and trauma, is suicidal, may have contracted HIV and numerous other diseases. A simple "We're so f***ing sorry" from the court and the Prison Service - or the State - is just not going to be good enough.

The simple truth about jails in this country is that they are death factories. Whether you go there for a week or life, the line between both can become a little blurry and actually mean the same thing.

Jails in South Africa have become breeding grounds for gangs that exist inside and outside the confines of prison life. They are training academies where a simple bag-snatcher can graduate as a full-fledged murderer. They are overcrowded, brutal and savage. And of course, our prison service is hardly any better than the criminals they guard, trading favors and money with their captives. Oh, now I'm being a little harsh, some might say - but how often has their corruption been exposed by investigative journalists?

And yes, prison is supposed to be feared, it's supposed to be a natural consequence to breaking the law. It's supposed to be a deterrent. But is it altogether fair? Is it just?
Christina Engela's picture

Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way

Herewith an exclusive special offer - Full Membership of the Methodist Church of South Africa - if you are straight, perfect and sinless - and 2nd Class Membership if you happen to be gay and desperate enough to put up with our hypocritical bullshit to enter the House of God (cough, cough) - but that's just because we can't actually ban you (on account of that annoying Constitution), so we'll just let you in and annoy you, exclude you while seeming to include everybody, keep you at a distance and shame you into eventually going away when you get sick of bashing your head on that well-placed glass ceiling. Welcome to the Methodist Church of South Africa, where we take the Christ out of Christianity.

Last night I posted an article on the dismissal of Ecclesia de Lange, a Methodist minister, for daring to marry her partner. It seems that her being lesbian and a minister was not really an issue here, but the fact that she chose to formalize her relationship with her partner over what the church still views generally as "living in sin", is. Such things force me to question the morality of the Church, the hypocrisy of Christians - and the precise definition of "living in sin".

Instead of grabbing this opportunity to make a real difference and to embrace our community, the leadership of the MCSA instead have just by this act alone, alienated every single GLBTI person in the country and effectively undone and sabotaged all the community building done by activists and inclusive ministers over the past few decades.
Christina Engela's picture

Bonfire Of The Diversities

A few very interesting things have grabbed my attention in the international news this week and I thought I would mention them here.

Right at the top of the list, possibly because I am transgender myself, I want to mention that "France has become the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness. A health minister signalled the change would be made last May and this was confirmed last week by a government decree." And about bloody time too! I can't wait to see which countries will follow this sterling example.

"South African man wins Mr Gay World 2010 A South African man has scooped the title of Mr Gay World 2010. Charl Van den Berg, a 28-year-old restaurateur from Cape Town, was named the winner at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, yesterday." Fantastic! This is one of the first good reasons I have had to feel proud of this country in ages!

"The European Parliament has confirmed that upholding LGBT rights is a condition for nations to join the European Union"- this is fantastic, and means that if any other country in Europe wishes to join the EU they WILL have to respect and uphold the civil rights and equality of the pink community within their borders." I only hope this will also apply retroactively to all countries ALREADY members of the EU, on pain of expulsion or other penalties should they go back on this principle.
Christina Engela's picture

The South African Dream


South Africa is full of potential and possibility and hope. All we need to do is grasp it and realize it. Sitting on the sidelines will let others achieve their own corrupt desires unopposed - and make our nightmares come true.

It is so easy to be caught up in the negativity that says South Africa is a dangerous place, that it is a haven for crime and gangsterism and corrupt government officials and conniving self-interested politicians, a place where dreams suffocate and joining the rat race to greener pastures elsewhere is the solution.

It is so easy to overlook the obvious, that we are now 20 years post-Apartheid, we have weathered the worst of it, that despite the doomsayers and gloom merchants, people of all races, cultures and religions, genders and sexual orientations are living together side by side in relative harmony. People are working together, sharing office space and even sharing jokes and sorrows together in ways we never dreamed possible two decades ago.

This is my dream, the South African dream, an equal opportunity society, where we all can make our dreams come true.

.....Well, not quite yet.
Christina Engela's picture

These Colors Don't Run


Considering the events of the past few days, weeks and months - it is quite easy for me to feel negative - but I am not going to.

Nope. Not me, not today.

If you're wondering why, I will tell you. Because there are folks out there who want us to fail, they want our community to be complacent and silent and happy with the way things are. They love our apathy and false sense of security. They love it when we sit quietly by and accept every slap in the face and every kick in the butt they deliver. And because being negative will play into their hands, I am inclined to not play along.

I dance to my own tune, folks, I drum my own beat.
Christina Engela's picture

Man In White Speak With Forked Tongue


What message are we receiving when religious leaders consciously undermine and criticize human rights protections and equality laws?

This question presented itself to me when I read of the Pope's planned visit to the UK - upon which he has immediately criticized existing UK laws which protect the lives, equality, humanity and dignity of certain groups of people as violating "natural law" and is viewed as an attack on the legal rights granted to women and gay people. It is a de facto defence of faith-based discrimination. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has said that Benedict "objects to the fact that religious institutions in the UK can no longer lawfully discriminate at will on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation".

Are we to understand that the Pope feels that women, gay and transgender people should not have rights at all?

Does this example not attempt to completely redefine what it means to be Christian, godly, civilized or human? Does it not paint religion with a fresh coat of hypocrisy, tears and bloodshed?
Flutterfury's picture

Transphobic Comments on the Airwaves

I'm starting up a boycott of the sponsor's of WKSE-FM's morning Janet and Nick show for comments made yesterday on the air about Scott Moore "The 2nd Pregnany Man"


Christina Engela's picture

Mentally Ill

Assume for a moment that I were to commit a crime of passion - say in true Colombine fashion I were to walk into a shopping mall or a high school carrying a shotgun, and start pumping - or if I were to start playing "Carmageddon" for real. Would I be considered "sane"? What do you think, huh?  Would I make a good case for a shrink to make his career with?  Would I be justified in making an insanity plea in court?

Would I?

What do you think my chances are?

Some people like to claim that transsexuality is a "mental disorder" - and as a case in point, while advocacy and human rights organizations and many, many psych professionals around the world are trying to get transsexuality removed from the list of mental disorders, a particularly nasty group of shrinks is trying to entrench us in the next edition of the Manual.

In other words, according to them, I am mentally ill.  Yet I am not on any medication, not having any counseling, not locked away in a padded cell - and I live a full, productive and happy life - but am supposedly "mentally ill" just because of being transsexual. 

Yet at the same time transsexuals have to go through a strenuous evaluation process to qualify for HRT and surgery - paradoxically to establish that they are in fact NOT mentally ill.  That's right, if you manifest signs of bipolar disorder, or personality disorders and in some countries, even severe clinical depression, you are disqualified.  So in other words, we are just perfectly sane and healthy enough to know that we want surgery - but just "mentally ill" enough to need it.  How does that make me feel?  Just peachy, thanks doc.  Tell me about your mother, lol.
Christina Engela's picture

On The Spot


This morning I lost my virginity... my TV interview virginity, that is.

Those who know me, know me as a fairly quiet person, so the last place they would expect to see me is on a live TV broadcast on ETV morning news, talking about international matters. Come to think of it, that's the last place I would expect to see me. Never the less, I found myself there this morning, a bundle of nerves, like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

As press and media liaison for the group, I had written and distributed the press release sent out this week, and was invited to answer a few questions, which I did. Bearing in mind that it is a bit harder to articulate words as well live, unprepared and in one take than it is to write articles such as I do every day, I did the best I could - considering it was my first time in front of a live TV camera. I had participated in a live radio interview before, but this was a bit different as all the instructions were given to me via a headset and the sounds in the background were a little confusing.

Also, I was tense and had a dry mouth - and as people who know me are aware, I have issues with my voice. And there I was, live on ETV morning news, dressed to the nines and afraid I was going to sound like Bea Arthur in front of the whole nation. Well, at least that part of it that was awake at 7am and watching ETV news. So many people were going see a woman on screen, and give the box a smack thinking it was getting the wrong audio channel. I drew comfort from my rather warped sense of humor and a wry grin spread across my face as we went live. Donovan, the video journalist/cameraman/receptionist and resident psychologist, had done his best to make me relax and feel comfortable. He smiled at me and gave me an "OK" sign behind the camera.
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