Intersectionality in Cape Town

This is a tragic story of intersections tangling instead of smoothly and lovingly intersecting.

The Rhodes Must Fall Exhibition, “Echoing Voices from Within” was disrupted yesterday by members of the University of Cape Town’s Trans Collective, a student led organisation that prioritises the rights of transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex students at the University of Cape Town.

That’s the trouble with the trans activism branch of intersectionalism right now, isn’t it – that it prioritizes its own rights instead of promoting or defending or raising awareness of them. In other words, it’s the opposite of intersectional: it says Put Us First. As it did here, by disrupting an anti-colonialist exhibition for the sake of it’s not clear what exactly.

Students smeared photographs with red paint and blocked the entrances to the Centre for African Studies Gallery with their painted naked bodies. The exhibition was shut down.

For not being about trans issues, apparently. But that’s not very intersectional, is it.

Whether the exhibition will be reinstated is still under discussion, as certain photographs have been removed, while others have been covered in red paint.

Curator of the Centre for African Studies Gallery Paul Weinberg asks a member of the Trans Collective to stop the disruption. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

In a statement released a short while ago, the Trans Collective stated that its “role has now evolved into speaking back to RMF and keeping it accountable to its commitment to intersectionality precisely because it is positioned as a black decolonial space.”

So commitment to intersectionality means black decolonizers have to “center” trans issues? It means they can’t talk about their own issue but have to talk about trans issues instead? I’m not seeing the intersection. I’m just seeing one big highway.

Trans Collective complained that only three out of more than 1,000 images that ended up making it onto the exhibition roll featured a trans person’s face.




How on earth could they know that?

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