Cleopatra Kambugu refuses to be a victim. She refuses to be silenced, or made afraid. She simply wants to be free to live her life and love her man. It’s a universal feeling, this wanting, needing to be free, but in a place like Uganda, and for a woman like Cleo, freedom is hard fought.
As one of the few openly trans women in Uganda, and in all of Africa, Cleo faces any number of challenges to freedom, but she’s luckier than most. She was able to travel to Thailand for her gender confirmation surgery, though her native Uganda does not recognize her as female. That comes with its own set of problems, particularly when traveling, or trying to secure healthcare.
Hoping to shed light on a nearly invisible population within a country shrouded in homophobic myths and realities, Cleo began sharing her story in the popular webseriesThe Pearl of Africa. Now a documentary, Cleo’s story has the ability to reach an even wider audience.