This episode was originally published on June 23, 2022 in the Whose Knowledge? website
Is the content you find online affirming to your multiple selves? What is the role that Wikipedia and other online platforms play in telling the stories of trans people and their communities? How can we create trans feminist and intersectional memory online?
In this episode, Kenyan transgender activist and feminist Arya Jeipea Karijo, guides us through a facsinating path of unraveling the complexities of online representation of trans people from marginalized communities.
Starting from her own personal quest for affirming content at a young age, Arya ended up in the radical stance of recognizing that her own embodied experience and positionalty are knowledges.
But these forms of knowledges are hardly recognized as such. Historically – Arya sustains –, trans people in Africa have been portrayed through the lens of colonizers and their anthropological account of trans people is the one that has prevailed as “legitimate” published knowledge. As a result, current online public knowledge platforms such as Wikipedia, reproduce those dominant colonial perspectives, and fail to put trans people’s embodied experience at the center of knowledge production:
Owning our narratives also serves to make our communities more visible online, continues Arya. Visibility is crucial because it counteracts this dominant and monolithic narrative of the world where difference is not celebrated but is persecuted and feared.
Indeed, Arya reminds us that when we live in a world where truth is being challenged, our own existence is our truth.