Activist explores new ways for inclusion

2017-06-01 06:00
Aids activist Nkokheli Mankayi

Aids activist Nkokheli Mankayi

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“I have had to fight a lot of battles as a black and gender non-conformist in South Africa, such as limited access to health-care, the stigma and discrimination,”.

These were the words of Nkokheli Mankayi,30, a non-binary LGBTI and HIV/AIDS activist.

It is through those battles that Mankayi constantly implements new strategies to advocate for equal health-care rights for all, consequently establishing a movement for sexual and gender minorities that are cast aside in society.

Mankayi recently convened a dialogue to discuss possible ways for the liberation of transgender and gender diverse persons in South Africa.

The panel of speakers included Mary Hames from Gender Equity, Leigh Davids of SistaazHood SWEAT, Trauma Practitioner from TRE for Africa Claire Gemmil as well as Whitney Quanita Booysen of the Trans Wellness.

The interactive dialogue also looked at the impact of access to healthcare and ideas for new tools to work in improving healthcare for all queer persons.

Mankayi currently works as a Health Facilitator for Enhancing Care Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides key health system to strengthen capacity building, as well as clinical and non-clinical research services.

In addition to being the chairperson of Sinethemba LGBTI Group, a community based organisation that aims to act as a safe space for the LGBTI community in Lower Cross Roads, Mankayi sits in advisory boards of various activist organisations and groups within the LGBTI community.

Mankanyi, whose resolute determination in LGBTI rights advocacy is a force to be reckoned with, is also a member of Activate! Change Drivers network

Mankayi says Trans and gender diverse individuals in South Africa are still the most marginalised community and for that reason their rights and needs are often neglected.

This is mostly due to cultural and religious principles.

“I organised the dialogue as a platform for transgender and gender diverse people to come together, (to)share experience and possibly come up with innovative solutions for their day to day struggles.”.

His activism work stretches back to varsity days where they volunteered as peer educators for Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s HIV/AIDS Unit and later founded one of the institution’s most active LGBTI student organisation, GlosCPUT.

The organisation mainly focuses on the recognition and inclusion of LGBTI students and this is where Mankayi’s passion for activism was tested and strengthened.

“My dream is to alleviate all forms of discrimination against queer bodies even though I am aware that we still have a long way to go as South Africa is a culture and religion orientated country.”

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