The LGBTQIA+ community is not free from prejudice. We learned from transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse (TNBGD) people in our study, the Left Out Project, to be published in the second quarter of 2023, that members of their own community are often the primary perpetrators of online and offline transphobic violence against them. The Left Out Project, supported by the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN), seeks to explore and understand online gender-based violence as experienced by TNBGD people in four countries: Botswana, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. Through this project, we aim to centre TNBGD people’s experiences of online gender-based violence so that responses to online gender-based violence (e.g. policies) may be better informed and ensure stronger protections for TNBGD people. This article is a discussion of only some of the rich data that has been collected thus far from these four African countries.
In Rwanda and Uganda, anti-homosexuality and transphobic states actively criminalise the LGBTQIA+ community. However, in countries where there are protections, like Botswana and South Africa, they are also inclined towards transphobic discrimination and violence.
We often consider online spaces safer due to the anonymity and the diversity they provide. For instance, research has shown that for the LGBTQIA+ community, the internet is integral for creating enabling environments to establish an online support structure and connecting LGBTQIA+ people with each other, especially in places where they are persecuted and unable to fully express themselves offline. However, the internet is a fraught space and TNBGD people also face violence online, being the targets of hate speech, misgendering and harassment for simply existing.
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