The Initiative of Trans with a Mission-Uganda (ITWAM) was founded by Gafidyn Rae Wesonga and a few other members of the trans community on 20 December 2019 (names withheld for safety reasons). They’re a rural, indigenous, non-hierarchical, trans-feminist, youth-led community-based organization. ITWAM’s primary focus areas include:

  1. Policy Change Advocacy: They develop strategies to put trans people at the forefront of benefits, and engage in dialogues with stakeholders, state actors, and government institutions to address trans-related issues. They collaborate with partners like the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), Tranz Network Uganda (TNU), among others.
  2. Media Activism: ITWAM mobilizes rural trans individuals to participate in various trans-inclusive activities. They express views and concerns about their rights, call out human rights violations, create visibility for trans and gender-diverse persons in rural areas, and engage in discussions on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  3. Advocacy for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights: They create awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, sensitize rural trans persons on prevention and treatment, and engage with government health projects without discrimination. They have partnered with organizations like The AIDs Support Organization (TASO), Uganda Network of Young Persons Living with HIV (UNYPLHIV), and Mbale Network of Young Persons Living with HIV.

ITWAM works towards advancing equity, equality, and the quality of life for trans and gender-diverse persons, including those with disabilities, HIV, and trans sex workers in Eastern Uganda and Uganda as a whole. The organization adopts a non-hierarchical leadership approach that encourages functional diversity, making the team flexible and adaptable to changing conditions.

They focus on various trans and gender-diverse related issues, such as structural and institutionalized violence, discrimination in employment, access to essential social services, hate crimes, direct violence, federal research surveys, affordable and quality healthcare access, and collecting data on rural trans and gender-diverse people in the region for national organizing and programming.

ITWAM is a local civil society member organization of Tranz Network Uganda (TNU) and an Associate Member of the CIVICUS Alliance, a global alliance of civil society organizations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society worldwide. Additionally, ITWAM is the first transgender women-led and TGNC-focused organization to join the Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), a network predominantly occupied by cisgender heterosexual women. They also have a representative on the Board of Directors of TNU as the Director in charge of the Rural Trans movement in Uganda and are a member of the East Africa Trans Health and Advocacy Network (EATHAN) under TNU.

ITWAM’s Vision

ITWAM envisions a society free from stigmatization and discrimination of trans and gender-diverse persons; where all trans members are valued and gender diversity is celebrated with self-awareness, intersectionality and evolvement of the needs of a diverse and resilient trans community.

ITWAM’s Mission

ITWAM’S mission is to strengthen all rights of rural trans and gender diverse persons including those with disabilities and living with HIV, by representing their diverse needs within human rights strategies in Uganda to meet their needs in the local community.

ITWAM’s objective

Their main objectives are promoting rural trans and gender diverse members’ sexual reproductive health rights, human rights, and mental health wellbeing with bodily integrity and autonomy, and self-determination with esteem. Advocate for access to quality healthcare, socio-economic empowerment and transformation through skilling and capacity building of our rural trans members and policy change advocacy (in other words trans-ifying policies and legal frameworks) to protect trans persons and all their human rights entitlements.

Please note that the following photographs posted is from 2022 to 2023.