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ACTION NOTICE: re reportage of Ms Chimbalanga

Posted by C_A_A_N on Mon 31 May 2010 to C_A_A_N's blog

As reported in International press, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and her partner Steven (who live in Malawi) have just been pardoned from a prison sentence, partly due to public outcry and the support of the media. It's been wonderful to see international action and coverage of the injustice they faced leading to their release - consenting adults should never be imprisoned for loving each other. However, the reportage consistently mistakes the issues underlying this injustice - as I also reported a few days ago Tiwonge is not a gay man. Jane Fae already sent a press release and complaint to UK national media with no response.

Please join in and support Y. Gavriel Ansara's call to take action below, and see the press release following. Please share the notice and/or press release far and wide to international activists and media. for hyperlinks and images

ACTION NOTICE from Y. Gavriel Ansara:

Contact BBC to complain about mis-gendering Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

Anyone who cares about the rights of people with non-assigned genders (i.e. people whose genders differ from the ones they were assigned, often called 'trans' and 'intersex') not being erased and conflated with 'gay rights', please write to BBC about the inaccurate reporting and demand that they talk about the case in terms of rights for people with non-assigned genders, not as solely about 'gay rights'. Don't let our lives be invisible and ignored!

Send your complaints to the BBC here:

What to write?

If you need ideas about what to say, you could write something like:

'Dear Newsroom,

Tiwonge Chimbalanga is not a gay man, nor is she part of a 'gay' couple.

While it is great that BBC has reported the injustice of consenting adults being imprisoned for their partnership in Malawi, your reporting on this issue violates media guidelines for reporting on people whose genders differ from those they were assigned.

For example, The Associated Press, The New York Times, and the Washington Post all state that reporters commenting on people commonly termed 'trans' and 'intersex' should 'Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.' These guidelines also state that 'if that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly. Since Tiwonge has repeatedly told the press that she identifies as a woman, her clearly expressed preference should be respected by BBC reporters. Failure to do so is inaccurate and discriminatory.

These guidelines, located at, are very clear. You need to correct your mistake, issue an apology for inaccurate and discriminatory reporting, and discuss issues of human rights related to people with non-assigned genders, rather than erasing people's lives by focusing on this situation as a 'gay rights' issue. There are severe needs for human rights of women like Tiwonge to be addressed and your coverage should be an ethical and responsible attempt to cover those issues.

See here for a press release and call to action and see here for more information: .

Signed - you.'


Media mixup gender of Ms. Twionge Chimbalanga

This is an urgent notice to all media outlets who have been reporting the case of Steven and Tiwonge, who live in Malawi and have just been released from prison, in part due to international pressure. This is a great victory but some important facts are missing about the extent of the injustice. Tiwonge Chimbalanga is not a man. It has been wonderful to see support for consenting adults right to form relationships from the International press but due to misgendering, some additional underlying issues are being missed.

Y. Gavriel Ansara has put out a call to action encouraging concerned people to ask the BBC to correct their reportage "I am calling this action to combat erasure and raise awareness about the rights of people with non-assigned genders, that is people whose genders differ from those they were bureaucratically assigned (in some cultures called 'trans' and/or 'intersex')."

"My research shows intersections between ethnocentrism and cisgenderism, and that while the press appears to have improved in accuracy when reporting on people with non-assigned genders from minority world (aka 'Western' countries, the press still erases people with non-assigned genders and misidentifies them as 'gay' when reporting about people from Asian and African regions. This erasure is a form of cisgenderist colonialism."

To contact Y.Gavriel for interview regarding the gender and racism issues arising email and .

To interview someone from CAAN about the rights of all consenting adults to form loving or sexual relationships contact Clair Lewis (AKA Dennis Queen) via our administrator at

Further information:

Y Gavriel Ansara is a PhD student supervised by Dr Peter Hegarty at the University of Surrey. Gavi's research focuses on cisgenderism, the prejudicial ideologies and associated policies and practices that configure people with non-assigned genders as pathological, invalid, effects to be explained, or as distinct classes of people. He was founding director of Lifelines Rhode Island, a regional non-profit focused on providing advocacy, crisis intervention, educational training and support regarding people with non-assigned genders. A polycultural and multilingual immigrant, he serves as Spokesman on Multicultual Issues for Organisation Intersex Internationale and recently published a book chapter for clinical and counselling psychologists called Beyond Cisgenderism: Counselling people with non-assigned gender identities, in Lyndsey Moon's Counselling Ideologies: Queer Challenges to Heteronormativity

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