From a network of blankets strung together under a bridge in Cape Town, a group of homeless, transgender sex workers are fighting for equality. Sistaaz of the Castle is a group of around 40 homeless, transgender sex workers. Courtesy #DStv403
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa was the first country in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1996.
It's also still the only African nation to allow same-sex marriage.
From a network of blankets strung together under a bridge in Cape Town, a group of homeless, transgender sex workers are fighting for equality.
Sistaaz of the Castle is a group of around 40 homeless, transgender sex workers.
“We sick and tired of being here, where we are! We want to go and have a life, get a job be ourselves, stand on our own two feet. I don't want to get to the age of 40-45 and still here,” said Lameez Oliver.
They're credited with success for the trans community including motivating a major court ruling on transgender prison rights.
But a core issue is a lack of affordable housing that limits their options, making it difficult for them to earn a living any other way than sex work.
“You get options here of getting - giving sex, trading for money - what you gonna do? You don't have no choice but to do it. They say doing sex work it's bad but for me, I'm proud to say I'm a sex worker, my body pays my bills and it will provide for me,” added Oliver.
Though a homeless shelter that opened last year does have a transgender space, the Sistaaz members of the community - who were labeled men at birth but identify as women - say they are usually assigned to male dormitories.
There, according to one member of the group, "men always want sexual favors."
Watch the full report in the video gallery above