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Homeless trans sex workers in Cape Town want equality

South Africa

A group of 40 homeless transgender sex workers in Cape Town is pushing for a safe place to lay their heads.

The group, known as Sistaaz, say their community has largely been forgotten in the fight for equality.

“We sick and tired of being here, where we are! We want to go and have a life, get a job be ourselves, stand on our own two feet. I don’t want to get to the age of 40-45 and still here. We just want our own accommodation for us as a home, as a family”, said transgender sex worker, Lameez Oliver.

“I’ve been searching for like, how long for being part of family and when we founded Sistaazhood, I finally found a family, I found a home where I can be who I am”, Co-founder of Sistaazhood, Netta Marcus said.

Gender Dynamix is a transgender rights group based in South Africa. Its head Liberty Matthyse bemoans treatment meted out to the transgender community.

“Many of our community members that also engage within sex work are also excluded from the formal labour market in the country, have been excluded from education opportunities, have been excluded from either resources within the country that has resulted in us or in them being marginalized in a very particular way in relation to other more privileged identities”, Matthyse said.

These transgender people say, homeless shelters usually assign them to male dormitories, where they’re forced to trade sex for money.

South Africa was the first country in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1996. It is still the only African nation to allow same-sex marriage.


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