From that paragon of trans authoritativeness, Andrew Sullivan:
Autumn Sandeen notes that Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who was given a 14 year sentence last week under Malawi’s anti-homosexuality law, identifies as a woman. Sandeen believes that “we can safely say that from past coverage by the LGBT press and LGBT blogosphere that this story would not have gained as much traction in LGBT media if this were considered a transgender or intersex story”. But Jim Burroway isn’t sure that either the gay or transgender label fits:
It turns out that in many traditional cultures, it may be more acceptable for women to take on what westerners perceive as “masculine” traits, and for men to take on what westerners would label more “feminine” traits. Which means that many of the external peripheral markers that we use to understand the contours of our masculinity or femininity become less important in many traditional cultures. But in these non-western cultures, gender roles — what men and women do as opposed to who they are — are considered much more important in defining what is a man and what is a woman. Against that realty, our understanding of gay/straight/transgender/whatever has only a passing relevance.
Sounds like a bunch of warmed-over ‘Gay American History’ from Jonathan Katz. From one of the sources Autumn cites in her post:
“Advocating for Transgender people’s rights in most African countries is problematic for us” says Robert Hamblin advocacy manager for SA Transgender organization Gender DynamiX. “Gender variant identities are not acknowledged and just about any sexual minority is called gay or homosexual. This is because a person is assigned a gender based on their genitals, despite how they self identify.”
“Gender variant identities are not acknowledged….”
Hell, Forget Africa.
That sounds like plenty of gay organizations – and self-professed scholars – here.
Moreover, if I understand the story as it has developed, Tiwonge Chimbalanga is intersexed – which of course, where Thomas/Thomasine Hall was concerned, meant ‘perfectly formed male’ for Katz but also does not preclude IDing as trans (or gay) as well.
Still, its the standard m.o.: Never pass up the opportunity to erase the T.