Tuesday, May 25, 2010

*CORRECTION* Queer couple sentenced to 14 Years In Jail for... LOVE

I've actually never had to do this before in more than two and a half years and 700 posts, but I'm publishing this *CORRECTION* of this story I blogged about earlier today.

How the story appeared in the newspaper in Malawi, clearly showing that this couple are not "two men" but rather a man and a person who presents as a woman.

But in this photo from the trial, the transgender person is denied wearing the clothes she normally wears, and thus the Western media shout about the injustice to these "two men" - They're certainly part of our Queer community, but we have to call this what it is.

It is still too crazy.

But it's happening. A transgender male-to-female twenty-something and a twenty-something guy fall in love. The couple invite their friends to a party where, even though their marriage isn't legal in their country (due to the lack of transgender rights), they can celebrate their engagement.

Word gets out that the transgender woman is not a 'real' woman, and the couple is arrested.

And last week, convicted to 14 years of hard labor.

For daring to love each other.

The couple are Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, and they are citizens of Malawi, in Africa.

Here's a petition you can sign, urging the President of Malawi to release the couple immediately.

You can also check out and support Amnesty International, which publicizes cases like these and other "prisoners of conscience" around the world - people - male, female, and transgender, who are jailed and persecuted unjustly.

My thanks to Andy over at Towleroad for the online petition link and for sharing what Madonna and President Obama had to say (Madonna made the same mistake I did earlier, referring to the couple as "two men", while the White House did a better job of stating:

The criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity is unconscionable

And my Thanks to Angie for helping me see this as the trans-phobic story it is.

Check out this great blog post over at Skip The Makeup for more on the trans-phobia surrounding the reporting of this story!


ivanova said...

Lee, I love that you took in feedback from your readers and corrected your mistake so quickly. That puts you way ahead of the New York Times and many other news sources! There is a lot of trans-phobia even in the gay community and I'm so glad that your blog is combating that. Thank you for reporting this awful story and reporting it accurately.

Daniel Teeter said...

Lee, I appreciate your respect for the subtleties of this issue. For me, grieving over this as a transgender issue is just dressing the issue up in drag, so to speak.

This is a tale about control and the fever warped fears of the mouth-breathing prigs of the world (and their gods) have for losing it. For Malawi, the actions of Tiwonge and Steven represent pure anti-institutional revolution. Meanwhile, we in the "enlightened" West may gloat to know that the only "unnatural act" here is to live according to someone else's beliefs.

But then, how consenting adults choose to love, dress, and reassign themselves is just a small part of this. The prigs also want control over reproduction, healthcare, drugs, etc, etc. (You can't even kill yourself without going to Hell.) One person's Malawi court is just another person's Tea Party.

A truly free and just society accepts the fact that people may choose to make choices with which we (and our gods) don't agree. If you believe we're so different than Malawi you haven't seen Fox News lately. The difference between us is nearly microscopic. And that's the saddest part of this story of all.

deduck3 said...

Lee, thanks for reporting this but what does it matter if he is "transgendered" or not? The point is that he is still a man in love with another man in which they were both condemned for admitting their love for each other. THAT my friend IS the story.

Rebekah said...


But she isn't a man - she's a woman born biologically male. Tiwonge clearly presents and functions as a woman, so calling it an issue of gay rights invalidates her ability to self-define her gender.

Unknown said...

Lee - thanks so much for taking the time to listen to feedback and keep us updated on the facts of this case. I just saw on Yahoo news that the couple has been pardoned and will be released from prison without any conditions! Like most other mainstream news outlets, the article continues to identify them as a gay couple, unfortunately. Also unfortunate is the president of Malawi reaffirmed that the couple did violate Malawi law, but they're being released on humanitarian grounds. But it's baby step forward, right?

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hi Angela - I'm so glad to know they were pardoned. Thanks for telling us!