African Bodies Breaking Grounds Building Bridges was the theme for the Pan African IlGA Regional Conference that took place in Johannesburg from 13-18 May 2016. This conference meant that emerging trans focused organizations had an opportunity to network with bigger organizations to share experiences, get advice and guidance.

Small organizations engaged with possible donors and funders to create future partnerships that could benefit the transgender community of Namibia. The Trans pre-conference was amazing and hands on and we got to see that regardless of where in Africa we come from, we share similar challenges. We face issues of stigma, discrimination and violence.

Jholerina Timbo, director Wings to Transcend in Namibia

Access to services health care facilities and the protection from the law is lacking. Generally, there is a lack of information on Trans terminologies and what they mean, there is a lack of trans visibility in commonalities were part of the issues that came up. It came to light that as much as we might find ourselves in different parts of Africa, gender identity issues still need a lot of advocacy, sensitization and awareness-raising. This became evident when many transgender activists expressed views on how they have to advocate for inclusion and space we are supposed to be part of like LGBTI conferences.

The main conference was also informative with panel discussions that motivated and enlightened us on how we can lobby for equality and equity for the communities we serve. There were panel discussions that also shared best practices and guidelines to ensure our advocacy strategies are in line with our country contexts and constitutions. Furthermore, how we can use regional and international instruments and mechanism to aid our struggle and trans advocacy.

This conference brought together more than 35 countries and had more then 180 participants from across the globe.

The conference was a safe space where many Africans that are rejected, stigmatized and unacknowledged could express themselves fully without fear. The PAN AFRICAN ILGA REGIONAL LGBTI CONFERENCE was motivational. Yes, indeed, African bodies are breaking grounds and building bridges.