16 May 2022 | Story Anthony Mthembu

According to the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office (GEADO) at the University of the Free State (UFS), an alarming number of transgender and gender-diverse persons at South African institutions of higher learning are consistently met with a great deal of neglect and exclusion. Therefore, it is imperative to constantly shine light on the injustice and violation of their human rights in order to enable spaces that acknowledge their lived realities and uphold their human dignity. 

The importance of the march

As such, the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office will be hosting a transgender march on the Bloemfontein Campus on 17  May 2022. 

“The aim of this march is to raise awareness about issues of transsexuality and gender-diverse individuals. We hope to accentuate the voices of transgender individuals and gender-diverse persons on our campuses,” expressed Delisile Mngadi, Assistant Officer in the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office. The march will commence at 09:30 from the Main Gate and will end at the Centenary Complex. In addition, members of the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Office argue that the purpose of the march is to remind members of the UFS community and the society at large that the stories, the voices, and experiences of transgender and gender-diverse individuals do matter.

An invitation to staff and students 

Members of the UFS community, regardless of how they identify, are invited to take part in the march. “It is also important that cishetero persons attend the march; this shows that they stand in support of all gender-diverse persons, and it is also a great opportunity to learn.  Another reason why it is important for cisgender persons to attend the march is because violence and discrimination targeted at transgender persons remain a daily reality on our campuses, which inadvertently maintains heteronormative notions and patriarchal power that validates transphobia and homophobia,” Mngadi indicated. 

UFS staff and students who will be in attendance can expect to hear speeches from a few invited dignitaries. In addition, Mngadi, along with other members of the office, maintains that this is an opportunity for staff and students to engage with one another. The march is particularly important because it will teach staff and students “to be aware of the diversity that exists within our institution, a diversity that transcends language, religion, and ethnicity – to name just a few. People will also learn to respect this diversity, and most importantly, to understand that all lives matter”, said Mngadi.

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