Safe Zones at Wits helps transgender groups to navigate life beyond Wits.
Safe Zones at Wits University and the trans-led non-governmental organisation, Be True 2 Me, have managed to bring diverse groups together through social support meetings for transgender staff and students.
There are online sessions every second Thursday of the month and in-person meetings every Friday at the Wits Disability Rights Unit Boardroom in Solomon Mahlangu.
On Friday, May 5 the session focused on making information more accesible with attendees eager to know more about chest binding, Hormone Replacement Therapy and which doctors to consult about gender confirmation surgeries.
Programme coordinator for Sexual Orientation and Gender Advocacy, Tish Lumos told Wits Vuvuzela that the group sessions are open to everyone and guarantee confidentiality. Lumos said practical resources on offer include a library and no-perishable food.
Group member Jenna Searle said, “I’ve been to the online meetings on Thursdays, but I just liked the idea of interacting with young students.”
While Wits alumni, Lethabo Msibi said, “There are transgender people around, but we can’t see each other, so this gives us a sense of community.”
For Jessica Bonthys, attending the session was about supporting her partner, Searle. “I wanted to get a different perspective and I didn’t know what to expect today but I found the information about transitioning very interesting and it’s nice to know that there are trained professionals taking care of your well-being,” they said.
The community also hosts an annual mentorship programme called “Train the Trainer Training,” which is a 12-hour training session for allies who want to advocate for and support members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The next session will be on Friday, May 12 at the Wits Disability Rights Unit Boardroom from 13:30-15:30.
FEATURED IMAGE: The Safe Zone Keychain with the shield that identifies a person as an ally once they have completed training. Photo Candice Wagener
- Wits Vuvuzela, Collaborations key to creating safe spaces for journalists, October 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, Safe Zones allies increase to 160, August 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits Safe Zones a first in SA, March 2012