Social Media Versus the LGBTQ+ Community If you thought being proud and trans on the internet was difficult, try exuding the same passion for your community in one of the most dangerous countries on the planet: Uganda. Ms. Black, a trans activist and a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, knows the dangers and peril associated with her lifestyle.
“I can’t even go to the doctor,” she exclaims. Unfortunately, the political and social climate that exists in 2022 for the average Uganda citizen is far from ideal. Moreover, Ms. Black shares how her lifestyle clashes with local with the religious beliefs of healthcare workers living in Uganda. “I can’t even go to the doctor for my medical needs for fear that I will be mocked, ridiculed and made a spectacle of from bigoted physicians.” she passionately exclaims.
This belief is not unfounded either; Ms. Black shares that she recently lost a friend due to HIV-related malpractice in 2013. Since Uganda shuns individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, Ms. Black’s friend fell under the classification of “gay male.” While there is no anti-gay legislation within Uganda that prevents individuals from marginalized communities from receiving medical treatment, they rarely receive adequate treatment. As a result of their ignorance, Ms. Black’s friend succumbed to her HIV side effects.
Being the Change She Wanted to See
For individuals like Ms. Black, it’s easy to roll over and say, “woe is me!” Instead, she takes to the online platform that gives her a voice: the digital web. When she engages with individuals online, they have to take her seriously. Ms. Black runs a thriving online community filled with trans activists living in Uganda with HIV. Although her intentions are pure, and she’s helped thousands of individuals face adversity head-on, she’s often a target of online harassment and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, similar to face-to-face torment, is when a person, or, in this case, a group of hate-filled individuals, attack someone or something outside of the “norm.” Since Ms. Black wears her uniqueness with confidence and enthusiasm, she attracts numerous tormenters and bullies, commonly referred to as “trolls.” Trolls are, without a doubt, cancer that rips through online communities like a hot knife to a slice of butter.
Trolls have a single goal: inflict mental torment on their target. In Ms. Black’s case, they routinely harass her, call her names, use derogatory phrases and flood her profile pictures with homophobic slurs. One brazen troll had the audacity to leave a message under Ms. Black’s Facebook profile photo stating, “if you want to know that Ms. Black is a man, snatch his phone and run!” But with her go-getter attitude, this troll’s attack was merely brushed off her shoulders and taken in stride.
The Harbinger of Trans Acceptance In Africa
Ms. Black is too busy with her activism to give trolls a morsel of attention. With nearly 30% of the trans community within Africa suffering from sexual assault, Ms. Black’s blinders are focused on her goal: unifying trans sex workers and LGBTQ+ citizens who call Africa home. Her Facebook profile acts as a digital community for marginalized groups to share their plights, post their thoughts and talk about their shared love for fashion.
The digital playground that Ms. Black created became a haven for LGBTQ+ advocates during quarantine on account of the expressed violence toward their community. At the start of Coronavirus, trans activists and homosexual citizens were ostracized more than ever, labeled as the “spreaders” of the deadly virus throughout the continent of Africa.
With these setbacks, it’s easy to get lost in the negative side of being trans and turning inward, but she’s not done yet: Ms. Black has teamed up with a pro-sex-worker organization that goes by the moniker “Lady Mermaids.” Together with Lady Mermaids, Ms. Black uses GoFundMe’s digital platform to raise funds for citizens of the LGBTQ+ who cannot afford necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter and HIV medication. While trolls often feel they have the last laugh at Ms. Black’s expense, she’s the one reigning in a new era of acceptance in the continent of Africa.