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Transgender Activist, Yaya Mavundla is Redefining Advocacy and Pleasure with Durex

Transgender Activist Yaya, Mavundla is unapologetically taking up space, and uses her voice to effect change. Her authentic approach has captured the attention of South Africans and brands alike. Most recently, her collaboration with trusted condom brand, Durex to elevate the conversation around safe sex and inclusivity.

As a Transgender Activist, Yaya shares that showing up in spaces as herself means facing a lot of rejection and judgment from society. Affirming that it’s these experiences that shaped her brand. “Today I am known for my truth, honesty, resilience and bravery.” So what inspired her to become an advocate for transgender rights and visibility? “This was never my plan, it happened organically. People saw me as an inspiration by living my truth. I remember winning my first Feather Award in 2016, and it was mainly because I showed up in spaces that aren’t normally built for women like myself and I would go there as myself which created a lot of transgender visibility in the industry and South Africa as a whole.”

Image: Silver Casamero @raelsilver_rs

The dynamic powerhouse also uses art as a medium to challenge stereotypes, and her most recent exhibition ‘Black, Trans & Bold,’ was no different. “The exhibition of my paintings stands as a statement against the erasure and marginalization of transgender women’s experiences. Through my paintings, I aim to empower transgender women and ensure everyone who has a dream knows it is possible, you can be and do whatever you want as long as you believe in the dream and put in the work.” Asserting that it’s more than an exhibition or just art, she says it’s a testament to the strength and resilience of transgender women. “With my paintings, I encourage transgender individuals to embrace their beauty, strength, and worth, reminding them that they are more than enough.”

Expanding on her creative process, she enlightens that the artworks derive from historical images, serving as a testament to the battles faced by transgender women against systemic oppression. “In a country where many transgender women struggle for employment and opportunities, my journey reflects the resilience required to overcome adversity.”

About the Durex campaign which aims to elevate the conversation around sexual health and inclusivity, she notes that there’s a rise in STIs according to a recent statement released by The Department of Health. “This coincides with Durex launching their latest product Invisible, which provides pleasurable sex with a condom that gives a raw feeling which is what most people will enjoy with this product because it means there is no reason for one not to practice safe sex, we know the myths about condoms and Durex with invisible is able to eliminate that. I am excited to be able to collaborate with a brand such as Durex to use my voice to save lives and encourage people to engage in safe sex.”

Image: Silver Casamero @raelsilver_rs

Glamour: In what ways do you hope your collaboration with Durex will empower and educate individuals, particularly within the transgender community, about safe sex practices?

Yaya: This opportunity came at a time where I really wanted to speak about the importance of safe sex. And I believe that with Durex Invisible, a lot of women will have a voice in their relationships about sex and drive a conversation around safe sex, seeing another woman who looks like them proudly opening up about having pleasurable safe sex, a woman they can reference and a woman they can trust her voice will give them that excitement and trust on the brand too.

Glamour: What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in advocating for transgender rights, and how have you overcome them?

Yaya: The work I do comes with a lot of pressure and financial strain on me, and as we know, there aren't a lot of opportunities for women like myself in the industry I work in and when they are, I get paid less than the other women providing the same service.

Glamour: How important is it for brands like Durex to actively engage with and support marginalized communities, such as the transgender community?

Yaya: Durex prides itself on being the brand that is for everyone, every gender, sexuality, so it actually great that they are practicing what they preach and them working with people that society can reference, especially transgender community is great and means consumers can trust them, seeing that Durex shares same values with me as an activist who believes everyone should be involved in spaces is even more exciting.

Glamour: Can you tell us about any specific initiatives or resources that you believe are crucial for promoting sexual health awareness among transgender individuals?

Yaya: Authentic stories and using relatable stories, things that people can relate to.

Glamour: What message do you hope to convey through your collaboration with Durex, both to the transgender community and to society as a whole?

Yaya: It's important to have a voice when you are engaging in a sexual relationship with your partner or anyone that you choose to have it with. With Durex invisible, things get easier to lead that conversation and encourage your partner to participate in pleasurable, safe sex because invisible gives you the best of both worlds.

Glamour: What advice would you give to other transgender individuals who may be struggling with issues related to sexual health or identity?

Yaya: Choosing yourself, and living your truth is great empowerment to success. I would therefore encourage everyone to live their lives truthfully and when engaging in sexual activities they need to know that they must enjoy it, and that it’s important to have a voice.

Glamour: Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for the future of transgender advocacy, both personally and within the broader community?

Yaya: I am hoping my relationship with Durex goes from strength to strength, and we get to explore all the crazy and exciting ideas I have for the brand. We get to continue to save lives and encourage society to have fun when they are having sex and know that when you are using the right product, sex is more fun and safe. I hope to continue being an inspiration to many women like myself, families and everyone who needs that validation that you are worthy, great and deserving. I also want to take my paintings around the world, get my clothing line, Queer Comfort, to retail, and support transgender women in need.

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