Cocreated during the first ever gathering of and for African trans activists in Cape Town, the work is a creative intervention for social justice, to mark the emergence of an African trans movement and honor the people from seven countries who chose to participate.
After drawing them from life, I invited each participant to write words of their choice directly onto their portrait. Each person also wrote a separate, longer text about themselves that is exhibited beside the portrait. On this cover are four of the ten people featured in the body of work. From left to right:
Victor Mukasa, Uganda: “Victor the victor. I’m the Victor. Proud of who I am. A creation of God. God created me with a clear purpose and I fulfill that every day. My trans identity is my pride. A portrait of a trans African has been a dream. Trans Africa here we come. I represent diversity. God has given me 2 sets of eyes through this ID. My dream of a proud trans movement has come true. This is for my children and their children generation after generation. I was never a myth.” By Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Victor Mukasa, Cape Town 2008.
Bongi Mpisholo Louw, South Africa: “TRANS-GENDER, TRANS-FORMATION I owe no one an explanation. I am comfortable in my own skin, start to recognise me.” Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Thekwane Bongi Mpisholo Louw, Cape Town 2008.
Amanda Goto, Zimbabwe: “Proudly Trans-Zimbabwean. In this journey I have learned to love and accept the fact that it was only a mismatch of the outer part.” Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Amanda Goto, Cape Town 2008.
Madam Jholerina Brina Timbo, Namibia: “I’m an African woman. To understand me, get to know me. This is who I am and what I am. I am the modern-day Cleopatra. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear, African beauty that I am.” By Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Madam Jholerina Brina, Timbo, Cape Town 2008.
Gabrielle Le Roux is a queer South African artist for social justice. Her practice followed a decade of working with feminist NGOs challenging racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, during which time she received a rich informal education from radical black women, many of whom were also not formally educated. Le Roux became convinced that people educate and transform one another with their stories. Le Roux collaborates, often at the invitation of other activists, to create collections of portraits and stories that serve as advocacy tools by centering as teachers people to whom society is systematically deaf. Much of the recent work is about unsettling the gender binary. Le Roux is self-taught as a portrait artist and works only from life. She also works with film when her collaborators feel it is the appropriate medium. Proudly Trans in Turkey Playlist, cocreated with Turkish trans activists in 2011, is used as a resource internationally.