An account of living as a translesbian in Africa
Jess McCabe // 22 September 2008
What is it like to live as a lesbian trans woman in Africa*? How does transphobia intersect with the legacy of colonialism? Black Looks has a guest blogger who is untangling her perspective on some of these issues.
From her latest post:
Well, translesbians unlike our lesbian allies are subjected to a sort of underhanded scrutiny by all as a result of absolutist conditioning. You can understand my shock when pre op, an acquaintance asked me if he could be honoured with a test run “fuck”. Worse he could not even imagine how offensive and demeaning his request was. I find that the wonder still prevails in a lurch, a sideways glance or a passing shout of abuse by a child, an adult or both, one aiding the other in learned prejudice. Everyone seems to want to see you naked to confirm their assumptions. When you are out for the night all eyes are on you and I’m not raising this subject in isolation as the situation above confirms. If this isn’t enough, I have also inadvertently had week long flings with women curious to know: vagina or hole? With a certain experience you instinctively become aware of your innate longings and act on them without the expectation that you are going to be anyone’s “science project”. Why are trans-homosexuals so threatening to the gay community especially when we are part of the same group? Why do people feel that they have to get into relationships with you because somehow they find out that you are transgender/transsexual? Is it merely their curiosity that goes into overdrive or is something else on a psychological level tossed in the mix?
Black Looks’ guest blogger also has some thoughts on an African-led and defined LGBTI movement:
Conversely, perhaps it is time we start thinking about lasting sexual orientation and gender identity freedom in Africa today rather than waiting for another European pill to bail us out or worse, the next century and half hence in which to mend our way, ourselves. The script of our future is ours to write, definitions ours to define and all that. Divided we fall, united we stand together as one.
*Note: the blogger in question only identifies her continent, not country, so that’s why I’m being nonspecific too.