Are transgender women, women? An exposé on transgender women in the African Human Rights Framework

Authors David Nnanna Ikpo, Chianaraekpere Ike

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; School of Law, University of Washington
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 5 Issue 2, p. 1 – 21


In a world with a history of patriarchal suppression of women, every woman deserves dignity within existing human rights frameworks. Transwomen are women, and, as such, are entitled to protection within these human rights frameworks, cognizant of the intersectional identities that women have and the multi-layered oppressions that they face. This argument is difficult to make, sustain and defend in a context where the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI)conversation is mostly flattened to just issues of sexual orientation, and gender is largely instructed by repressive heteronormative and patriarchal cultures and social norms. This research recognises the intersectionality that exists in being both a woman and a part of the LGBTQI community. Accordingly, this paper focuses on gender identity and expression of transgender women as distinct but interrelated grounds within the context of historically and still presents exclusion of women and LGBTQI persons. It utilises literature to explore transgender identity and expression, focusing on literary works of fiction and non-fiction. It argues that transgender exclusion is a challenge to gender equality at international level, especially in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Yogyakarta Principles, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women.