The Gender Binary and Everything in Between

The cinema hall was filled for this scintillating panel moderated by Arit Okpo. Arit deftly guided her guests, Emmanuella David Ette, Babalwa Mtshawu and Tom, through the many issues facing gender minorities with empathy and calm, even asking a member of the audience to “tell us your experience” when they stood up to say they felt excluded from the conversation since there was no non-binary gender panelist on seat.

Emmanuella David-Ette said that people were hypocrites and oftentimes, these hypocrites were homosexual or attracted to trans-people, but that wasn’t a good enough excuse for the harm they unleashed on queer bodies. She shared that she was raised to be a pastor and urged sexual and gender minorities who were still religious to start these conversations amongst their circles, to ask questions like “When Adam was created before Eve was removed from him, what was “he” really?”

Babalwa said there was a social need to belong to boxes and shared her experience meeting Sangoma midwives of South Africa to stop them from snapping the heads of intersex babies who they believed brought badluck to the community. She said she didn’t always love her body, but she finds joy in it these days and even showcases it privately on Instagram. Young people reaching out to her via her inbox to share how her existence affirms theirs also gives her joy.

Tom believes that inclusion is necessary, once you find yourself in a family or society that accepted you and loves you as you are, more peace and harmony would come to your body. Your mental and even physical health will improve. He said almost anything would grow with attention, affection and love. This was how safe spaces were created.

It was an emotional and empowering panel, an illuminating one, ending with a member of the audience standing up to say she had been enlightened.