Women’s Month Exhibition Shines Spotlight on Black Transgender Women

Written by on August 17, 2021


From left: Miss South Africa Top 30, Lehlogonolo Machaba; Moja Love’s The Way Ngingakhona star, Tholang Motshumi and Award-winning transgender activist, Yaya Mavundla
Image supplied by Terra Dick

On Saturday, August 14 2021, a ground-breaking exhibition opened at the Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail. The exhibition, which is curated and presented by award-winning reality TV star and transgender activist, Yaya Mavundla will run until September 14, 2021. It is entitled Layers of a Black Transgender Woman and is aimed at amplifying Transgender Visibility in South Africa. What better way to conduct that than on Women’s Month?

“My agenda is to address issues of black transgender women in SA, create space for inclusion and further say Transgender women are women and it’s important to get that message across during women’s month where South Africa is celebrating women’s month,” Mavundla wrote on a statement released on Monday, August 16.

Yaya Mavundla
Image by Terra Dick

Sticking to Mavundla’s agenda, the exhibition is said to consist of weekly dialogues that explore various issues that affect the Trans-community. Some of these dialogues will be held with the media and government departments such as police, health, home affairs and education where black transgender women face challenges the most. Topics up for discussion include: struggles faced by black transgender women, pronouns, the importance of inclusivity and understanding gender identity and politics.

“This is to make sure that I use my platform to make sure that transgender women are respected as women and are deserving of the same spaces as all women and further be given the same opportunities as all the women,” Mavundla added.

For the execution of the exhibition, Mavundla collaborated with South African photographer, Terra Dick who captured her along with two other women: Tholang Motshumi (Moja Love’s The Way Ngingakhona Reality Star) and Lehlogonolo Machaba (Miss South Africa top 30 finalist). The three women were captured “in their terms,” according to the statement. To interpret the images, Nigerian illustrator, Chukwudi Udoye was enlisted to furnish his services. The overall exhibition consists of 12-images combined with the illustrated versions.

Interpreted illustration of Lehlogonolo Macha by Chukwudi Udeye
Image supplied by Mzansi Queer Festival

Motshumi revealed that this exhibition affirms her sense of purpose, “This is what I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted for people to look at me and take inspiration, especially to Trans people.”

Interpreted illustration of Tholang Motshumi by Chukwudi Udeye
Image supplied by Mzansi Queer Festival

As plights of transgender women linger internationally, exhibitions like Layers of a Black Transgender Woman provide hope and moxie to the Trans-community while striving to deprogram society’s stigmas that result in said plights. The exhibition is thus open to the public and, “Will have insightful conversations by black transgender women from all works of lives to enrich the diversity of black women, celebrating their differences as women and share their personal stories and journeys,” concluded the statement.


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