Natasha Graves
Student: Natasha Graves
Internship Year:

SATHRI is a project formed by a collaboration between Gender DynamiX, Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA), and The Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective for Transgender and Intersex Women in Africa (SHE).  In the duration of my field studies, I spent time traveling to and working with the three different non-profit organizations to get a more well rounded experience.  Mainly working on needs assessments to inform future programing, I focused on the utilization and access to health services among this population.  Specifically, I surveyed and interviewed health service providers about their awareness and knowledge of this population.

Greatest Public Health Lesson
Transgender and other LGB issues are extremely difficult to work on in South Africa due to the multitude barriers.  Although some of these barriers, such as discrimination, are seen in the United States, they are amplified in the South African context.  Specifically, the health service sector in Cape Town is ignorant of transgender issues and the majority is not willing to even partake in advocacy efforts.  I commend the people I have been working with for their dedication to such important issues.  There are people that are making great strides in the field of transgender advocacy and transgender health but I have learned that there are still large disparities and injustices that need to be addressed.

Favorite Memory
My favorite memory was during the last week of my trip, when I was able to sit in on a support group meeting of transgender women (MtF), who trusted me enough to openly speak about their stories and thoughts.  Through this, I was able to learn about traditional cultural circumcision among transgender women in the amaXhosa culture in the Eastern Cape region.  I listened to women painfully speak of being forced by their families into this traditional rite of passage in becoming a man, when they believe they are female.  These connections with the people I met are ones that will last a lifetime.

Natasha Graves from UCLA Fielding SPH on Vimeo.