“They Call Me Umfowethu” Transgender Men and Female Masculinity in South Africa

In the last several years, a small but outspoken transgender rights movement has emerged in South Africa. This is not to say that gender variance has only begun to exist in this country, but that an organized movement of transgender men and women demanding legal rights and social understanding has only begun to emerge. This paper studies the history of gender variance in South Africa, and tells the life histories of three people with varying types of transmasculine experience. Drawing on these histories as well as a variety of other resources, I have then described the concerns and challenges of transgender men as well as masculine and male-identified women, and examined if/how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) focused NGOs are responding to the unique needs of this group.

This research paper was produced in 2006 by Harper B. Keenan at Eugene Lang College: The New School for Liberal Arts on Transgender Men and Female Masculinity in South Africa, and will interest academics and those interested in Transgender Studies in South Africa. Available for download in PDF:
Harper Keenan research paper (PDF)