Just a few days ago news broke that Russia had enacted new rules banning people with "mental disorders" from driving. In Russia transsexualism and transgenderism are listed as "mental disorders," making it criminal for transgender people to drive there.
It is hard to disagree when people say that some areas of the world are going in the wrong direction when it comes to human rights. People are discriminating against, harassing, and murdering trans people every day, not just in Russia but in all countries, though I think these issues have started to get more attention with big stars like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock telling their heartbreaking stories to the world. The world is essentially evolving, but at the same time it's very clear that countries like Russia are going in the wrong direction.
In some places more and more hostility toward the trans community is being created. Even though I think it's absurd that we in 2015 are calling trans people mentally ill, I can understand that the lack of accurate media coverage of this topic has had a negative effect. With almost no stories coming out showing trans people as human beings, there's a huge disconnect between the trans community and the general public. Adding to the problem, few people have ever met a trans person.
Because of this, I think the fifth episode of The Pearl of Africa has special value. Not only does it give a glimpse into the trans community, but it does so within the context of a hostile society in Uganda. I hope that this Web series will help change the perception of transgender people as mentally ill, and that Cleo's story will create the feeling of having met a trans person for anybody who hasn't had that chance.
This week's episode covers discrimination against LGBTI people in Uganda. Cleo is invited to a secret meeting with the Ugandan government to prove that she's real. In the episode I search for an answer to the question of why it's so hard for people to accept anything that doesn't fit into society's norms.
If you've missed any of the previous episodes, you can find them here.
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