In May 2011, Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender and Intersex Women of Africa (S.H.E) was formally established by Leigh Ann van der Merwe, following the announcement of the organisation’s formation during the Eastern and Southern African Trans and Intersex Regional Exchange Programme.

Vision and Mission

Part of the founding reasons derived from the Trans and Intersex Regional Exchange Programme, hosted by Gender DynamiX in May 2011 in Uganda, where trans feminine and trans women activists and trans masculine and trans men activists had intense discussions about the power imbalance within the trans movement in Africa, which was overwhelmingly led by trans men and trans masculine people. 

S.H.E strives to build the leadership of trans women, and work for greater inclusion of trans women and their issues in African women’s and feminist movements at the local, national and regional levels. At the local level, S.H.E works with trans women in peri-urban informal settlements and township communities, predominantly in the Eastern Cape Province, where they run support groups and ‘co-powerment’ programs. At the national level, they collaborate with women’s movements to raise issues of violence against trans women, and with trans and intersex organizations to advance campaigns for access to health care. At the continental level, they build the capacity of trans and women’s rights organizations. They held the first African Transformative Feminist Leadership Institute, which brought together 14 transgender women activists from 8 countries working to advance a feminist agenda for trans women on the African continent, starting with the release of the “African Transfeminist Charter.”

Here is a video of Leigh Ann speaking about Trans Day of Visibility in 2018: