‘Gender identity has got nothing to do with being lesbian or gay’
For many South Africans, issues around sexual orientation and gender identity are confusing and often difficult to discuss and address. So, when ECF was asked to present a workshop at The Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) conference in June 2017 in Durban, it presented the perfect opportunity to assist in debunking some myths and raising awareness on such issues.
ECF’s workshop facilitator, Nkokheli Kells Mankayi, broached the need to build awareness and skills when working with human sexuality, especially among those in institutions of higher learning. Key objectives of this workshop by Nkokheli included:
- Building knowledge and skills when working with human sexuality
- Acquiring skills and knowledge on addressing the health challenges experienced by SOGI minorities, particularly with regard to Comprehensive HIV Prevention.
- Differentiate between key concepts within the field of Human sexuality that denote identity to create an enabling health environment that reflects and accepts diversity.
- Able to explain MSM and Transgender.
- Exploring the risk and vulnerabilities of transgender and MSM to HIV and other STIs.
- Barriers that trans and gender diverse people and MSM encounter in seeking health services
The workshop was successfully concluded with key messages on the following outcomes:
- People may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviours and it is important not to assume another person’s sexual orientation.
- Some people may regularly have sex with others of the same sex, without seeing themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (whether due to cultural, religious or personal reasons).
- Gender identity /presentation has nothing to do with being lesbian or gay!
- Most lesbian women consider themselves women and similarly, most gay men consider themselves men.
- Being transgender has nothing to do with being lesbian or gay. Transgender people can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
- Intersex is a biological variant and not a sexual orientation, nor does it refer to sexual behaviour.
Finally.. Having a penis, does not make you a man, having breasts do not make you a mother, a man having sex with another man is not necessarily gay and being heterosexual does not make you ‘normal’.