by Christina Mavuma
My name is Christina Moemedi Gugulethu Mavuma.
I am from rural Eastern Cape ‘eMfondweni, Transkei. My parents moved to Botswana and decided to live here with us. I have a younger and older sister as well as two older brothers.
I am a normal transgender woman.
Well, mostly normal.
Normal is such a subjective word anyway.
But for the purposes of this piece, the word ‘normal’ will suffice where a lengthy and overly complicated explanation would otherwise be needed.
I work at a restaurant and also volunteer by advocating for transgender people in Botswana. I do prevention and research on HIV/Aids for transgender people. At the restaurant I do office work and interact with my colleagues in remarkable ways. We talk about everything from the weather, work issues, we laugh at amusing things that people share, we gossip when there is something interesting or salacious happening.
They don’t understand when I tell them that I’m transgender, some say “she’s not transgender” but for most people It’s not an issue for them.
Those who met me where at work, only know me as the person I am now.
Sometimes I don’t make lunch for work. I go out and have lunch with my best friend, who also works an office job. We talk about men, relationships, ‘internet’ gossip and what’s going on in our lives.
After work I take the bus home to the house I’m renting in the suburbs. I’m saving to buy a house, after which I intend to start a family.
I spend my time training to be a good advocate for human rights – defender and educator, so that I can become the voice of transgender people in Botswana.
I’m also involved with a nonprofit organization called Rainbow Identity Association (RIA), which deals with transgender and intersex, queer gender, gender questioning, transsexuals and non-conforming gender people.
I intend to get married in a couple of years my partner. That will only happen though once we’ve both paid off our debts.
I have my eye on a particular dress and I have the location planned already. Being married will make it easier to adopt when we decide to have our own family.
On weekends I like to go out for a drive to a cafe and soak up the sun. My man has a love for the sea and needs his fix of salt(ed) air.
I’m more of a homebody, preferring to write, draw and do creative things (nail art and make up), cook and listen to the news, engage in topics that talk about the rights of transgender people.
I enjoy our outings and it does me good to get out of the house. We do all the normal things that couples do.
We laugh, we talk, we fight, we make love.
We make dinner, we order pizza when we’re feeling too lazy to cook.
We make plans, we go out with friends.
We have birthdays and anniversaries, and we sleep in and cuddle when it’s raining on weekends.
Once a year I have a check up with my doctor, to make sure everything is normal.
Thus far, it always has been, and I expect it will remain that way until I am a very old woman.
Other than that, there are very few reminders in my life that I’m transgender and it’s only when I choose to talk about them or acknowledge them that they actively remind me of my history.
None of my remaining issues are unique to transgender women.
There are non-transgender women who are also on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). There are also non-transgender women who cannot have children and there are non-transgender women who have had surgery on private areas of their body.
As we progress as a liberal society, people like myself will become the stereotype.
The imagery of the burly transgender sex worker with a five o’clock shadow and a skin-tight leopard print dress, platinum blonde wig, fishnet stockings and six inch heels will fade from the mind of the public.
“The trailblazers amongst the transgender population are no longer those who parade themselves for the public eye or who grace the covers of gossip magazines as ‘sex change boy’ forcing people to confront our existence.
Our trailblazers are now those who manage to live ordinary lives and who are accepted without incident as their correct gender.”
There will always be people who know my history.
There will always be people who will gossip about that history and pass it on to others.
But by being my totally underwhelming, very ordinary self, I can show those people and their friends that I am just like them.
I am just another ‘mundane’ woman in an ordinary relationship, with an ordinary job, living a normal life as much as possible.
To be continued…