Camminga, B. 2017. ‘Catch and Release: Transgender Migrants and Opposite of Deportation in South Africa’. Lo Squaderno: Explorations in Space and Society 44: 29–31.
- Category: Literature
- Source: Academic
- Subject: Deportation,Trans woman,Asylum/Refugee,Documentation status,Gender Identity,Marginalisation,Sex work,Transgender,Transphobia
- Place: South Africa,Zimbabwe
- Year: 2017
- URL: Camminga-2017-Catch-and-Release-Transgender-Migrants-and-Opposi-copy.pdf
South Africa has a tense relationship with migrants. It is attractive because of its status as an African financial powerhouse and the ‘Rainbow Nation’ image it has projected to the world. It is the land of opportunity where extensive constitutional protections are believed to be able to provide tangible forms of safety. Yet, migrants are regularly accused of a variety of social ills and in recent years have been on the receiving end of several mass scale xenophobic attacks. South Africa is also unique on the African continent in relation to refugee regimes in that it is the only country that recognises and constitutionally protects transgender refugees/asylum seekers. In light of this in recent years it has seen a marked rise in the emergence of transgender migrants within the country. The refugee system though is plagued with issues of corruption and many migrants choose rather to exist in a zone of illegality, outside the system. Drawing on research carried out in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2014 this paper focuses on two such cases that of Trisha and Musa - undocumented transgender migrant sex workers. Being undocumented and practicing a trade that is illegal in South Africa - sex work - leaves Trisha and Musa particularly vulnerable to arrest and deportation. Yet, Trisha and Musa are among several transgender migrants that have been arrested and sent to South Africa’s lone deportation facility - Lindela - only to be released. This paper considers what citizenship, rights and the socio-spatial borders of belonging might mean when transgender migrants come to understand themselves as immune to deportation.