In Burkina Faso, being transgender means living in the shadows

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07/17/2019

Amidst roars of laughter, Naomi takes out her phone and shows us photos of herself, having fun with a friend, posing for the camera, both in high heels and sequined dresses. Naomi is a 26-year-old transgender woman, and in her country, Burkina Faso, there are very few places where she is able to assume her identity. “I never dress like that to go out,” says Naomi, who refers to her feminine clothes as a “disguise worn from time to time” in her room or when visiting friends who know her. We meet her on a February morning in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second-largest city in this landlocked West African country. She is at REVS PLUS, an association fighting HIV/AIDS, which offers discussion spaces for all those that Burkinabé society refuses to accept: sex workers, members of the LGBTI community, drug users. Here they have a place where they can talk to their peers, share their experiences and ask for advice, in a safe and caring environment.

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