Pardoned Malawi Trans Bride Gone Missing, Queer Pakistani Couple Facing Similar Fate. WTF.


We were afraid something like this was going to happen. It looks like Tiwonge Chimbalanga has gone missing after she and Steven Monjeza were released from prison.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, known affectionately by his friends and family as “Aunt Tiwo,” went missing shortly after being released from prison Saturday night and has not been seen since, according to sources.  One can only hope that Tiwonge is being hidden and protected by his family, has found a safe house, or has fled the country and is working on securing asylum in a place where he and Steven Monjeza can soon be reunited.

Chimbalanga is actually a trans woman, not a gay man as this article says. We know that because we made the same mistake ourselves recently. Anyway, yes hopefully her disappearance is a sign that she has fled the country or is being protected by a Human Rights Group. But there is absolutely no way to know if it’s that or if she has been kidnapped/injured/killed. We’re hoping for the best, obvs.

Also, in a weird twist, the exact same situation is happening in Pakistan right now. A man and a trans woman were arrested for getting married, though the two maintain the celebration broken up buy police was just a birthday party. They’ll be charged with sodomy, police say; homosexuality is a crime in Pakistan, punishable with up to 10 years in prison. I’m not going to share the quotes from the police because they are too awful.

And to make matters even worse, the media is repeating the same mistakes it made in reporting the Malawi story. Here’s CNN’s lede: “Malik Muhammad Iqbal is a man. Rani was born a man but lives as a woman.” Because obviously her gender identity is more important than the fact that Pakistan has arrested two people for getting married. Oh and they call her a transvestite in the video component of the story. AWESOME! Also that’s against AP Style, just sayin’. (@cnn)

Also this all made Riese think of this documentary Be Like Others, about men undergoing gender reassignment surgery in Iran. You should see it.


CNN is not completely worthless, I guess. They published this editorial about how gay protesters use the Bible as an excuse.

Funny, a week of walking up and down the main artery of the self-proclaimed heart of moral debauchery, and nary a Bible verse could be heard. In the many times I’ve been to Las Vegas over the years, I’ve never seen a religious protest. And yet let a midsize city try to add sexual orientation to its municipal nondiscrimination policy or a high school senior bring a same-gender date to prom, and you would think it was the apocalypse. …

The answer is simple: Those who are uncomfortable or fearful of someone who is different from them sometimes hide behind religion to gain power, nurture their ignorance and justify their prejudices.

He also calls out King James — yes that one, in charge of that popular Bible translation — as a closeted gay man with some anti-gay policies. Interesting. Some things never change. (@cnn)


Jon Stewart came back last night, and of course there were so many things for him to catch up on. He ripped into BP as such: “You have underwater robots with diamond saws, and you went with that SIXTH? Because robots with diamond saws sounds like the first fucking thing I’d try!” Check it out:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c

Also someone sent me an email with a link to the Top 10 Cutest Animals Threatened by the BP Oil Spill. Like an idiot, I saw the word cute and got excited, not realizing this might be one of the most depressing articles ever. But I figure it’s probably important for you guys to know these things. Maybe you want to donate to relief efforts?


Hey on the upside, look what Obama said about us today! Or Obama Twitter, which is basically Obama. If Lohan can find the time, Obama certainly can.


Al Gore and Tipper Gore Broke Up and it makes us feel weird and sad and worried about global warming. (@salon)


Arizona Law is an Attack on All Women: “In addition to the obvious racist and xenophobic implications of the new Arizona immigration law, in addition to the obvious concerns that this unlawful law targets residents based on the hue of their skin and the language on their lips, there is something else that troubles us. SB 1070 is an attack on women – especially mothers, and those who find themselves in situations of domestic violence, sexual assault or workplace discrimination.” (@moms rising)

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Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 127 articles for us.


  1. when we wrote about this the other day, I was really scared that this was going to be our next story about one or both of the people in that Malawi couple. I hope she’s been taken secretly/swiftly by a Human Rights group, I really really really really do.

  2. Argh, Malawi couple thing seems scary and ominous. And now in Pakistan too.

    If one could apply a silver lining to this situation, it would be that maybe the more people this shit happens to, the higher the likelihood the it’s going to break into mainstream news and get the attention it deserves.

    I am liking the theory about King James being a closet case. If Fred Phelps found out he was reading a bible authorised by a gay man, would he have to start waving placards saying “THE BIBLE IS FOR FAGS” and start, like, protesting against himself?

  3. is the gay catholic priest thing linked to the 10 cutest animals thing some sort of joke i’m totally not getting?

    • Ha, nope, that’s what happens when I try to do too many things while writing a daily fix. It’s the right link now!

  4. this fix mostly makes me sad, since i started with the malawi couple and ended with the cute animals. =[

  5. Why are parts of the world so awful? Best thoughts go to Tiwonge Chimbalanga and hope she is well.

  6. AFP are reporting that the Malawian couple gave a press conference late Wednesday.

    My South African tg activist mate also said on his facebook update he’s heard they will be given asylum in England. Hopefully they’ll get there in one piece. But how horrible to be uprooted from everything you know just for the sake of being *you*.

    Another priceless quote from president Mutharika:
    He said the couple’s wedding was “satanic because they committed a crime against our culture, against our religion and against our laws,” but said he pardoned them because “to err is human and to forgive is divine.”

  7. I don’t know whether to be glad that the Pakistani couple didn’t get stoned/whipped, or to just go into another fit of depression due to the state of this country. I don’t think I heard this on the news, though. Which might partly be because 1) I don’t watch it on principle 2) people are too busy talking about politics and Cyclone Phet to be interested in the persecution of human beings and denial of human rights.


  8. Super disturbing. I really hope the speculation that she’s in hiding prove to be true.

  9. I’m not sure how LGBT folks expect the straight world to understand why the couples in Pakistan and Malawi were arrested if their gender identity and that they were charged with homosexuality aren’t mentioned. Raising awareness about the criminalization of homosexuality and actually saving lives is more important to me than individual identity.

    • Despite the occasional strong belief in the contrary straight folks are fully sentient and capable of understanding functionalism as a philosophical position – it’s not like they for everyday practical purposes need to understand the Chaos paradigm, retroactive enchantment and the temporally bidirectional nature of reality’s unravelling into Schrodinger state infinity. Though Peter Caroll was ostensibly straight, so it would be technically unfair to deny het folks even that.

      So yea, they can understand nuanced things. Or maybe…maybe the scary bit is that they might understand? And that the things are too complex to fit a soundbite? Well, tough. Then the marketing guru can go, watch something, or go out and get drunk, or ask gf…in short find inspiration and come up with something else to make her soundbites about.

      And everybody just goes on about their self-insert Harry Potter ripoff and misses the actual pattern. Would both Malawi and Pakistan have the same situation by accident? Really?

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