Let Us Remember All Women on International Women's Day

Published: March 7, 2013

Annually, International Women’s Day is commemorated on March 8. This year, I want to highlight the plight of an often-forgotten group of women who are most times invisible and silenced, due to the social stigma and daily discrimination they face: lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women. There are many studies, which have been recently carried out on discrimination against these stigmatized groups in Guyana. (For links, see below.*) And there are also the voices of many who personally attest to this experience. Only a few days ago, a transgender woman related to me the constant harassment she suffers. "Up to this morning someone hurled abuses at me saying, ‘ayuh battieman mus dead, doan think ayuh gon get rights and live happy,’" she said. She continued to detail that the police would harass her for cross-dressing, often detaining her but never arresting her since they know she is affiliated with SASOD.

Recently too, there was a prominent incident in the local media where two female soldiers were met with sanctions of suspension from from work by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) after a cell-phone video of them engaging in intimate activities was disseminated publicly without their permission. These are just a few of the cases that are reported to local groups or make the media. However, the vast majority of incidents go unreported as the victims feel they have no real form of redress for the everyday acts of discrimination they suffer. Some lesbian women, in particular, often feel compelled to conform to gender stereotypes by wearing attire that is considered "sexy" and "feminine." Some women have "sham" relationships with men, just to avoid these social sanctions.

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