Life is tough for trans and intersex Cameroonians

Published: December 17, 2014

Colin Stewart
Original Article:

For years, Naomi and Dolores have been well-known names in the city of Yaoundé, gaining a reputation that has spread beyond the LGBT community. Naomi, 25, whose real name is Franky, and Dolores, 23, with a given name of Jonas, both look so thoroughly female that they attract attention whenever they appear in public. Clothing, jewelry, hairstyles — every detail is feminine.

And in a homophobic country like Cameroon, where people cling to rigidly traditional views of gender, those who appear to be transgender or transvestites are at risk. They are automatically labeled as gay, which is condemned by Cameroonian society.

However, for the past six years or so, a famous dancer in Cameroon has regularly appeared in drag each night as part of his act, which makes him a familiar sight on the streets and in Yaoundé’s nightspots.

Beyond that, in recent years, the transgender phenomenon has gradually gained prominence, primarily because of Naomi and Dolores.

They have repeatedly been the victims of public attacks and assaults, but each time, like a phoenix, they emerge unscathed and unchanged, braving further taunts, scornful glances and insults. Every moment of their daily life in Cameroon is a challenge, but they remain true to their understanding of who they are, how they feel and how they prefer to present their gender identities.

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