Malawi’s historic bride talks to AFP

AFP has published what it says is the first press interview with Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a trans woman who was jailed along with Steven Monjeza in Malawi after the couple held an engagement celebration in 2009. International pressure led to their pardon, and Chimbalanga fled to South Africa, where LGBT rights are protected by the constitution and same-sex marriage is legal. Monjeza is still in jail for an unrelated crime.

I’ll let you read the interview over at France 24 (it’s in English), but I want to note the article’s ambivalence on gender and sexuality terms. It’s the first time I’ve seen a press report clearly identifying Chimbalanga as a trans woman, not a gay man, which is how she was portrayed by the Malawian press. But the website goes out of its way to identify Monjeza as gay. A photo caption calls him her “gay husband.” (This is an especially interesting choice because after their release, Monjeza disavowed Chimbalanga and married a woman.)

Second, although the article refers to Chimbalanga as “she” throughout, there are only photos of her dressed as a man. I don’t know whose choice that was.


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