by Samson ‘Thabo’ Brown
I have never believed that God made mistakes. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. That reason has always been to fulfill God’s greater purpose for your life. That’s how I view my trans experience. I was born into a body that didn’t fit me because I was meant to change it. Changing that body to fit the gendered vibration of my soul led me to my purpose. The family, friends, associates… people that I’ve crossed paths with and welcomed into my heart were put in my life for me to both learn from and for me to teach. Each interaction existed for the purpose of developing our individual characters.
I remember the first book of poetry I ever received. It was Maya Angelou’s, ‘Poetry’. I read it cover to cover. Every poem was like a gift for my soul. Every line called out to me. Every word inspired me to think, to reflect… to BE. Poetry was the music of my soul. Writing was my microphone and acting was the best way I knew to dance. My life experiences were the inspiration that I poured into every word that I encountered in every poem, every book, every script.
I never felt like I could tell anybody who I was. My mother worked a lot, so she was not always home or in town, and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to share with her who I felt I was meant to be. My grandmother by extension, who I spent most of my time with and was very close to, was a Christian. Being gay or lesbian was not an option, so I knew that my being of trans experience was out of the question. Of course as children, we do what we enjoy, what makes us feel good and comfortable. I remember that I used to stand up and use the washroom, chase girls during kissing tag in daycare, fight to wear a suit and not a dress on Sundays to church… I did what felt natural. I fought to be comfortable, to be myself. I was never a girl in my mind. No matter what anyone tried to tell me or how they may have tried to change my outward appearance and behavior. I was a boy who would one day grow up to be a man. That was my mentality and I was determined that it would be my reality one day.
My mother doesn’t call me by my chosen name. She doesn’t honor who I am. At times, I wonder if she ever will. As much as it hurts and it has made me both sad and at times angry, I don’t blame her. I am her only child and I recognize that it isn’t an easy thing for a parent to do. I am not the only one transitioning. My mother, extended family, and my friends are transitioning right along with me. I recognize that and I honor that, even though it pains me not to be seen for who I am. For some in my life, accepting me and my truth is easier than it is for others, and that’s okay. I know why it isn’t easy for my mother, and why it wasn’t easy for my grandmother in the beginning. Any parent, family member, or friend struggling to embrace a trans person in their midst, I encourage those of us who are of trans experience that the onus is on us to be patient. It is important to remember that they are struggling not because they don’t love us, but because they have to “bury” who they knew us to be, in order to embrace who we have always known we were. My mother loves me. In her own way, she loves me. I have to believe that even if I may not always feel it. I chose to struggle with my own identity by myself and I guess my mom is choosing to struggle with it on her own as well. Maybe one day we’ll help each other, but right now…. This is how things are and I guess, how they’re supposed to be.
When Zanele Muholi took my pictures for the Faces and Phases project, I had not “come out” as a trans person. I often wonder if I have to date. It was almost seamless. Late at night at a friend’s house, while her and her girlfriend slept, I decided on a first and last name. In a burst of courage, I changed my name on all social media platforms that I was on (downelink, Myspace, and Facebook). I have to admit I hesitated to change my name on Facebook for about 2 minutes, but I quickly realized that if I was to be true to myself, that meant being true to myself in every space that I occupied. Right after changing my name online, I had a long drink of water and went to sleep on the couch. My own friends didn’t know what I had done until the morning when they woke up and went online. I don’t know how long after they saw the change that they woke me up, but as soon as I woke up, the questions started. Surprisingly, I felt calm. I had answers. I was confident. I was comfortable.
About the author
Samson “Thabo” Brown is an actor and transadvocate located in Toronto, Canada.
Born to a South African mother and Trinidadian father.
He is currently working on developing short films that will hopefully increase the presence of transmen in the film industry, as well as having just been casted to play a transman in an upcoming webseries called, “The Playground”, which will premiere this fall.
His motto in life is, “Don’t claim to be starving when you ain’t hunting for food.”
Previous life stories