UCT Vice-Chancellor Under Fire After Harmful LGBTQIA+ Seminar
The Gender Diversity Coalition released a press statement on the 7th of September, calling for action after the UCT Vice-Chancellor’s LGBTQIA+ Seminar held on instagram live perpetuated what they have described as “transphobia, harmful speech towards intersex persons [and] queerphobia”.
UCT Vice-Chancellor (VC), Mamokgethi Phakeng, hosted an instagram live session on the 5th of September, with the intention of remaining informational in the discussion of matters within the sphere of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Still, her seminar, however transformative it may have attempted to be, was met with criticism from representatives of the queer community. The Gender Diversity Coalition released a press statement two days after the seminar, drawing attention to the harmful rhetoric shared within the live session.
One of the main points of criticism that could be found in the comments section of the VC’s live session, was the absence of queer representatives to aid in the discussion of, and the attempt to educate, around matters relating to the LGBTQIA+ community. One of the main points of concern mentioned in the Gender Diversity Coalition’s statement, however, began with the title of the seminar itself.
The seminar was titled “What does science say about LGBTQA+?”, which the statement revealed is harmful to “Trans and Intersex persons and their families who feel the daily violence of medical and pathologized diagnosis that have no positive outcome on their lives”.
The statement further mentions how the seminar continued to perpetuate misinformation around the intersex body, and how sentiments expressed by Dr. Mathabe during the seminar reiterated unsatisfactory “pathological practices” and medical gatekeeping, which has continued to contribute to the harm of Transgender individuals. The Coalition also expressed their disappointment and condemnation of such rhetoric.
The statement ended with a list of demands that the Gender Diversity Coalition proposed towards bringing South Africa closer to providing better human dignity towards Transgender and intersexual persons, and avoiding such harmful assumptions to be made about these individuals.
There were a number of demands listed, including a call for “an appropriate response and commitment to action” from UCT, and an engagement with the Minister of Health to discuss healthcare practices for Intersex and Transgender individuals, to name two.
The full statement can be found below:
As of the afternoon of the 10th of September, the VC issued a statement of apology via Twitter:
Update on Friday 10th
The UCT Vice-Chancellor has issued an apology and the UCT Council has supported the VC's apology.
External Link: Daily Maverick
- A UCT academic, Siv Greyson, gives a personal account about how they felt about the harmful discussion hosted by the VC
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