The Battle for Identity: Nigeria’s Proposed Anti-Cross-Dressing Law on the LGBTQ+ Community

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In Nigeria, a new legislative proposal is sending shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community, particularly among trans women, men, and non-binary individuals. The proposed amendment seeks to criminalize cross-dressing, defining it as the “practice of wearing clothes usually worn by a person of the opposite sex.” Anyone found guilty could face a six-month prison sentence or a fine of $1,200.

The Battle for Identity: Nigeria's Proposed Anti-Cross-Dressing Law on the LGBTQ Community

The Battle for Identity: Nigeria’s Proposed Anti-Cross-Dressing Law on the LGBTQ+ Community

This proposed amendment comes as an extension of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA) signed into law in 2014, which already imposes severe restrictions on same-sex relationships. Supporters of the amendment argue that it aligns with the values of Nigerian society, protecting what they see as humanity and family values.

Amendment Criticized for Discrimination and Practical Challenges in Regulating Gender Expression

Critics of the amendment, like 23-year-old trans man and designer Lolu Vangei “Jordyn,” argue that it is not only discriminatory but also impractical. Jordyn points out the absurdity of potentially arresting individuals simply for wearing clothes that don’t conform to traditional gender norms, highlighting the bill’s lack of consideration for diverse expressions of gender and fashion.

The Battle for Identity: Nigeria's Proposed Anti-Cross-Dressing Law on the LGBTQ+ Community

Prominent Figures Decry Proposed Amendment for Hypocrisy and Exemptions

The proposed amendment has sparked outrage among prominent figures like Bobrisky, Nigeria’s most high-profile cross-dressing personality, and drag queen James Brown. They have criticized the amendment for its narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy, particularly noting its exemption for entertainers.

ALSO READ: Ghana’s Parliament Passes Controversial Bill With Big Consequences For The LGBTQ+ Community

Amendment Push for ‘Morally Upright Society’ Sparks Debate Over Motives and Methods

Behind the proposed amendment is National Assembly member Muda Lawal Ulnar, who has not provided a clear explanation for his motivation. However, supporters of the amendment argue that it is necessary to maintain “morally upright society,” citing religious texts and claiming that cross-dressing could lead to a breakdown of moral standards.

However, for many in the LGBTQ+ community, such as 28-year-old trans woman and designer Fola Francis, the proposed amendment is not just concerning—it’s terrifying. Francis, who has already faced death threats due to her gender identity, now finds herself sheltering with friends in fear for her safety

Restrictive Dress Codes: Threat to LGBTQ+ Community Identity and Well-Being in Nigeria

For queer, trans, and non-binary Nigerians, clothing is more than just a means of self-expression—it’s a vital part of their identity. Restricting their ability to dress as they choose could have severe consequences on their mental health and well-being.

Resilience in Fashion: Emerging Designers Persist with Genderless Collections Amidst Legislative Challenges

Despite the challenges posed by the proposed amendment, emerging designers like Emerie Udiahgebi and Jordyn remain resilient. They continue to create genderless and inclusive fashion, providing a much-needed space for those who don’t fit into traditional gender categories.

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As the debate over the anti-cross-dressing bill continues, one thing is clear: the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria refuses to be silenced or erased. They will continue to fight for their right to express themselves authentically, regardless of the obstacles placed in their path.

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