Giselle – ‘Being trans in a place like Zambia is not easy’

24 July 2020

Giselle explains how she dealt with experiences of self-stigma and ongoing discrimination as a transgender woman in Zambia.

Giselle – ‘Being trans in a place like Zambia is not easy’

Giselle first experienced discrimination as a transgender woman in film school. Her lecturer’s abusive behaviour made her feel unsafe, so she ended up dropping out. The experience led her to internalise this stigma and withdraw from her community, to the point that she felt she was not entitled to an education.

I felt that just because of the way I identify as, I wasn’t eligible to get an education.

Giselle understands the difficulties of being a transgender person in a country like Zambia, and today she feels more mentally prepared for it. Finding support from her friends has helped her become a stronger person.

Experiences of transphobic discrimination created barriers for Giselle in accessing education services. Transphobia also creates barriers to the access of healthcare services, including HIV testing and treatment, leaving transgender people more vulnerable to HIV. As Giselle found, overcoming stigma can be challenging. Finding support systems such as friends can help you stay strong.

About the author

This interview was conducted by Levy Ngosa, a citizen journalist from Zambia.

Video edits by Julia Dotras.

Stories for change

‘Stories for Change’ is a series of real-life stories of stigma and discrimination, developed in collaboration with citizen journalists from Malawi, Zambia and Eswatini.

Find more stories here.