2014 Feb.5: “No one can live without love”

by Betesta Segale


My name is Betesta Segale. I am a 31 years old trans man.
I am a LGTBI activist, a writer and a communicator.
I have always found it easy to interact and be open with people. In my spare time, I play football.
I am interested in tourism so I watch a lot of documentaries. I also enjoy watching movies.
I was born into a family of six: three brothers and two sisters. My eldest brother passed on in 2000 and my mother passed on in 2004.
I currently live with my sister in Lobatse, a town in which I was born.  It is in the Southern District of Botswana.

In 2013, I earned a Diploma in the Accounting Programme, through the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Professionals. I still have an outstanding level but because of financial restraints, I have not been able to finish it.
In 2011, while living in South Africa, I studied online Community Journalism for Beginners, which was offered by the Department of Communication Science at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
I had to relocate back to Botswana and that caused me to miss writing the examination and have no certificate for it yet.

I am currently unemployed but I used to sell t-shirts, caps and watches but because of financial difficulty I had to stop.  I do plan on selling again because my customers are clamouring for them.

I do not plan to be in this situation for ever. I want to be an independent person, a leader, and especially a writer. I have a burning desire to write articles and stories about LGBTI people in Botswana and Africa. I want my writing to advocate, sensitize and shine some light on the struggles and successes of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Intersex (LGBTI) peoples in Africa.

My gender identity is male and my sexual orientation is heterosexual. I use the word ‘rra’ which means ‘he’ to identify myself. To me, it means I am just like any other man who is attracted to women. I have been in a relationship with a female partner for a year and three months now. We currently do not live together. She stays with her family. I consider it a long distance relationship but we see each other almost every weekend.

My family knows of our relationship and my partner’s select family members are aware that I am a cisgender male. They are happy for her as long as she is happy. I think that no one can live without love. I learnt that even the smallest things come out of love and that there would not be anything in the world without it e.g. buildings, clothes, food, etc.  At the base of all good things is love.

In keeping with that thought, I feel that everyone should be free to love who they want to. I have no problems with any of it. I have friends who are in same sex relationships and I treat them same as any other human being. I respect and do not judge them for their preference, to be same sex and same gender loving people. I believe there is no one who can change what one loves.

There are many challenges that I as a person face every day. I get stared at all the time and I am always asked to identify myself everywhere I go.  There are things which challenge me that others may not necessarily be aware of, like using public toilets, getting into the club and getting a job.  All this is because of how I choose to identity.  My papers show that I am a female but my physical appearance shows that I am a man.

In my hometown of Lobatse, I find that my community is fine with my gender identity.
They have seen my self-acceptance, self-respect and self-confidence of my gender identity. My hometown folk offer me more respect than outsiders who come in and are always asking about my gender identity. I do not feel that I am in immediate danger but I feel protected by other cisgender men that I hang around with.

South Africa feels different and you see rampant hate crimes, homo and transphobia because, in my opinion, the population is vast and there are so many different cultural beliefs and views. Though homosexuality is legalised, there are higher rates of rapes of lesbians in South Africa than in Botswana where it is illegal.

If I ever get the opportunity to be a leader, politician, radio host or TV presenter I would create a platform where I will engage with government officials and private sector so that they understand the issues affecting the LGBTI community.
The main issues would be; equality on dress codes, health rights equality for transgendered persons and public toilet setups.

The current dress code is a stumbling block to some sexual minorities and gender minorities in Botswana.
Most transgendered people in Botswana are denied the right to health due to their gender identity. I would also want public toilets to have the third unspecified toilet for gender non-conforming people.

That advocacy work will be backed by the many workshops and training sessions that I have attended and have informed my view.  I am saddened by the fact that I have learned so much but I have not been able to parlay it into employment and still rely on someone else to support me. My sister is my shoulder to cry on when I am feeling particularly despondent.

Some of the workshops I have attended are:

  • Prevention and Research Initiative for Sexual Minorities (PRISM) Project in Botswana in 2009 in which I had to collect on information about Men having Sex with other Men (MSM), Treatment Literacy Training Program in April 2010 and Legal Aid Training in Botswana in May 2010 all these trainings were organised by The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA).
  • Domestic Violence in 2010 organised by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO).
  • Internationally First African Dialogue on Christian Faith and Sexuality in 2009 in Stellenbosch Cape town organised by Out- Right Namibia. Trans and Intersex Activist Capacity Building Exchange Program in 2010- 2011 organised by Gender DynamiX and Support Initiative for people with a typical Sex Development (SIPD).
  • Fellowship on Human Rights Advocacy at Behind the Mask, a Pan- African Media organisation on Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Intersex (LGBTI) issues. I was recruited September 2010 – September 2011, signed the Terms of Reference (TOR) with the organisation on the 28th October 2010 for 12 months tenure. I worked on organisational development and Trans movement building duties and a writer. I produced 25 articles for Behind the Mask website for the year 2010- 2011 in the Programme.
    The articles can be accessible on request from the previous webmasters of the late site http:// www.mask.org.za.
    I did personal story from the Exchange Programme titled “You gave birth to a son’’ from the DVD titled ‘’Exquisite Gender’’ which contains personal stories from Trans and intersex people of Africa.
  • Awarded Barry Award for completing a digital story training workshop with the filmmaker Shelly Barry and for presenting a personal story on 17 September – 10 October 2010 in Cape Town.
  • I appeared on a live Talk Show SHIFT on SABC 1 in 2011 I Johannesburg to advocate and sensitise on the experiences and challenges that are faced by as a transmen in Africa.
  • I worked with Rainbow Identity Association (RIA) as a member in Botswana.

I am hopeful that one day I will be able to put all that I have learned into practice.
I am proud to have had the opportunity to learn all this. I dream to write more stories that concern LGBTI issues in Botswana and Africa.

It was worthwhile for me to participate in Faces and Phases in 2010. I met Zanele Muholi through a friend when the photo shoot was organised in Gaborone and Johannesburg.
I hope that the viewers of the photographs will get to know me a little better and that this article will help some closet trans people to come out to the light!

Betesta Segale, Gaborone, Botswana, 2010.  Both portraits are featuring in Faces and Phases by Zanele Muholi

Betesta Segale, Gaborone, Botswana, 2010.
Both photos are featuring in Faces and Phases by Zanele Muholi

Related articles

2014 Jan.9: “Enforcing my existence!”


2013 Aug. 19: The importance of self acceptance


2013 Aug. 22: Am exactly where I’m supposed to be

2013 Oct. 2: ‘I am a normal transgender woman’


2013 Oct. 12: I just feel she deserves much better


2013 Aug. 13: Love Transcends and Love Prevails

2013 July 15:  The virus has become a silent relative


2013 April 21: Living a legacy is always better than leaving a legacy


 2013 April 16: Not just a handsome butch lesbian


2013 Sept. 22: Stop this is hurting me…


2013 March 10:  ”I love women and they love me”


2013 February 28: I am not a Victim but a Victor…


This entry was posted in Allies, Alternative family, Another Approach Is Possible, Art Is A Human Right, Black Lesbians, Body Politics, Collaborations, Community, Community outreach, Connections, Creating awareness, Creative writer, Curative rapes, Dress code, Lobatse, Public toilets, rra, Trans Activism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 2014 Feb.5: “No one can live without love”

  1. Ramazan Ngobese says:

    Powerful broh uyabona le yama public Toilet iyinkinga ngampela cos ungena ngala kuyakhalwa ungene ngapha kukhalwe uze ugoduke ungazange uyenze obufuna ukuyenza

  2. Natasha says:

    I think it’s wonderful!! You look fabulous:)

  3. Peggy Perfect Cele says:

    Im so proud of u my friend, we are fortunate to hv ppl like u in our corner as a non straight community and that ur black is a cherry on top. I admire yr strength, yr determination and the way ur using yr gift to embrace who u are, who we are. Its bcoz of ppl like u that today we acknowledge ourselves and get ppl to recognise that we are who we are and they cannot wish, pray or brutalise us away.i hope u will not give up no matter what, I also hope u find the job u deserve and u continue changing the world. Ur great!!

  4. homepage says:

    Really amazing.
    Cheers for your details on the review 2014 Feb.5: No one can
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    They have already been particularly effective! I enjoyed reading through your write-up.

  5. Pingback: 2014 April 30: Good spirit dampened by my grandfather’s death | inkanyiso.org

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