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in Memoriam

In memory of our beloved and respected activist sister and leader,

Leigh Davids.

Today we lost an anchor. Words cannot describe the loss we are experiencing today. She was and remains a powerful activist. A confident teacher. Assertive and vivacious! She carried the scars society inflicted upon her with the utmost strength and resilience. She is an authoritative voice that had leaders sit up and listen. She was a leader that paved the way for one of the most marginalised trans and gender diverse communities in society. She straddled many different worlds confidently showcasing her adaptability and finesse. She was wonderous and the embodiment of passion and commitment to human rights and social justice. Her name is Leigh Davids!

Your Voice! Your Presence! Your Beauty! It was and remains ever powerful and ever present. Walking up and down in our Gender Dynamix (GDX) corridor demanding space and demanding access to resources both within the organisation and the sector and society at large will go down as a defining moment for us. Many colleagues felt intimidated but many of us also knew where it was coming from. Through mutual respect and understanding we found each other and so a new journey started for Sistazhood and GDX. Together we would face the that which made us feel angry, frustrated, humiliated, rejected and disempowered. We thank you for remaining resolute on your vision of a society where sex work is decriminalised and trans and gender diverse persons could live with dignity, equality and freedom.

During numerous meetings, since May 2018, we shared the aspirations of Sistazhood and the aspirations of each member within the Sistazhood family. Your life and memory forms part of the foundation that holds Sistazhood. During your most difficult moments you still made the effort to step up to your role as leader and give direction to the group. From the court house in the case of September v Minister of Correctional Services to the stages of Club Zer021 for the Annual Miss Sistazhood pageant. You are our reminder of what dedication, commitment and bravery in the face of adversity looks like.

As we reflect on your powerful life, we also recognise with great pain the realities of the majority black (including Coloured and Indian) trans and gender diverse persons whose realities continue to be shaped by poverty and deprivation of basic services on account of our gender identity and gender expression. We recognise how our bodies still continue to be shifted to the margins of society as valueless and disposable. We recognise your power in resisting these challenges to lead the fight for human rights and social justice with us.

Your life is a stark reminder of how public system and services fail trans and gender diverse persons. Your life embodies the lived politic of thousands and millions of our siblings in South Africa and on the African continent who are facing the harsh realities of failing and/or exclusionary public systems and services couples with the societal backlash motivating for the criminalisation, social exclusion and economic marginalisation of our bodies and personhood. 

In respecting your legacy, the fight for greater access to resources, dignified access to shelters and housing, food security, gender affirming healthcare, legal gender recognition (which you had many reservations about from the perspective of poor houseless trans and gender diverse persons) and enhanced safety and security for trans and gender diverse persons both within society and correctional centres continues. In celebration of our efforts, your powerful voice and sound knowledge and articulation of the issues facing poor houseless trans and gender diverse person sex workers ensured that our President made mention of inclusive shelters for LGBT persons in his 2019 State of the Nation address. This our sister and comrade is the change that you were instrumental in!!!

As we bid you a farewell, may your beautiful radical visionary soul rest in eternal peace. To the family and friends of Leigh may you find peace in knowing that she lived a meaningful life that opened many doors for positive change. To our sisters in Sistazhood, we share your loss. We will continue to be here to support you.

Leigh, we will miss you dearly! Your memory will live on forever sister, comrade and friend!

Rest in Peace and Power!!!

Team Gender Dynamix

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