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Parents’ views on transgender identities and the implications for learners.

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The systematic mistreatment of transgendered people within our society at large, and particularly in rural South Africa, is still endemic. Parents, however, can play a very crucial role in challenging and changing the assumptions their children have about transgendered people. Thus, this study addresses the ways in which parents understand trans identities and he implications thereof for children. The research design for this study adopted the use of semi structured individual interviews using photo-elicitation methods with parents residing at Umgababa, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, who currently have children in primary school. Two research issues underpinned the study. Firstly, the study sought to understand parents’ constructions of transgendered identities. Secondly, the research attempted to comprehend the ways that tradition and culture shape parents’ attitudes towards transgendered people. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data gathered from the participants. The research findings of the study revealed limited understandings of transgender identities amongst the parents interviewed. They also showed that rural parents’ reactions towards transgendered individuals are deeply grounded in heterosexual morals that are re-enforced by culture, tradition, and religious affiliations. This study also concluded that the violence aimed at LGBTQI+ identities in patriarchal communities regularly results in gender non-conforming individuals feeling powerless and fearing for their lives. Consequently, the results of the study indicated that parents and school staff members need to work more closely together if they are to gain collective insight relating to transgender issues. The dissertation concludes by claiming that parents are the primary influence on their children’s comprehension and behaviour in regard to transgender issues and, therefore, transgender matters need to be thoroughly addressed at the family level. A last conclusion drawn is the fact that parents should become primary ‘change-agents’ in order to help curb the spread of homophobic and transphobic stereotypes within rural communities (as a means of eradicating the gender-binary attitude that continually promotes toxic masculinity within patriarchal spaces).


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.