Trio addresses black transgender women issues via art

For the duration of the exhibition, Mavundla plans to hold weekly dialogues with the media and government departments

Lehlogonolo Machaba, Tholang Motsumi and Yaya Mavundla.
Lehlogonolo Machaba, Tholang Motsumi and Yaya Mavundla.
Image: Thembela Terra Dick

Miss SA top 30 finalist Lehlogonolo Machaba as well as reality TV stars Yaya Mavundla and Tholang Motsumi will front a photography exhibition that showcases black transgender women.

Curated and presented by Mavundla, a trans activist, the exhibition titled Layers Of a Black Transgender Woman will launch tomorrow at the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, in commemoration of Women’s Month.

“What I love about this exhibition is that it has given trans people a chance to showcase their talents and not just their faces. The makeup artist and director identifies themselves as trans women. Other crew members are part of the LGBTQI community,” Machaba, who came short of making this year’s Miss SA top 10, told Sowetan yesterday.

“This means that as trans individuals we are moving forward as a community. In the past few years we have been bottom of the food chain, but we are now channelling our inner power and showing the world that we do exist.

“We have been marginalised from opportunities, but now it’s about time people know our existence and what we are capable of.”

Mavundla, the star of Becoming, enlisted the help of photographer Thembela Terra Dick to capture the 12 images featured in the exhibition. Nigerian illustrator Chukwudi Udoye then interpreted some of the images.

“This is to address issues of black transgender women in SA in a form of art and create space for inclusion and further say transgender women are women and it is important to get that message across during Women's Month,” Mavundla said.

“My agenda is to make sure that I use my platform to make sure that transgender women are respected as women and are deserving of same spaces as all women and further be given the same opportunities as all the women.”

For the duration of the exhibition, Mavundla plans to hold weekly dialogues with the media and government departments such as police, health, home affairs and education. Topics will range from challenges faced by black trans women to pronouns, inclusivity and gender identity.

The exhibition will run until September 14.

“This is what I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted for people to look at me and take inspiration, especially to trans people,” said Motsumi, known for her reality show The Way Ngingakhona.