My thesis tracks the conceptual journeying of the term 'transgender' from the West to South Africa, along with the physical embodied journeying of transgender refugees to South Africa, and considers the interrelationships between the two. In particular, how the departures, border crossings and arrivals of refugees are enabled and/or constrained by the contested meanings and politics of transgender particularly in relation to its framing within human rights mechanisms. Research regarding transgender existence in South Africa, and Africa more widely has been limited. Moreover there has been no research to date on the journey of the concept from the West to this part of the world: how and why it travelled, and its impact in a context very different from the one in which it originated. Likewise there are also hitherto unexplored questions about the individuals who see themselves encompassed by the term transgender, and their associated experiences and struggles.