My Life story
I could never have imagined the day would come where I could proudly say, I am a MAN!
My journey, though not yet over, has tested my resilience, my sense of self and has taught me to love and learn. I have spent my life apprising to become a version of myself I can relate to. A version on myself that authentically reflected the person I am inside.
Transition is a natural occurrence. This particular transition is one that requires celebration.
I was born, Kebarileng Roseanne Sebetoane, a girl child raised by my grandmother. In a household of women, I was surrounded in every sense by femininity, through my transition I had to learn and unlearn my sense of self. As my parents were not actively involved in my life, the roles were filled by grandmother. She was a strong support structure, who showered me with unconditional love and protection until she passed in 2000.
Coming out to my grandmother was a comforting time, she was supportive in acknowledging my sexuality and she found solace in the reduced risk of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. At an early age I knew I was attracted to women, most girls did not know I was born female because I played as and among boys.
In high school, I was introduced to other girls who dress as I do and were attracted to girls as I was. This gave me an identity. I identified as Lesbian. I was among people who gave me a place to belong and a space to feel secure.
In 2004, I met Zanele Muholi who introduced me to Forum for The Empowerment of Women (FEW). This offered a platform for me to lend my voice to a worthwhile cause. The events that followed solidified my desire to – even in the smallest fraction – help someone who, like me was a victim of hate crime.
Corrective rape is a reality we all face, and the need for men to try “correct” us is one we all face in different aspects. Following the rape, I was faced with the urgency to speak out not only of the corrective rape within the lesbian community but women in general. As so many women, as I was, are failed by the medical and judiciary system, this was an opportunity to provide comfort to them and myself that you are not alone.
Through FEW, I was able to broaden my understanding of patriarch, gender and sexuality. FEW offered me exposure through conferences, training and various social movements which awakened my consciousness. This was a turning point for me.
The disconnect I had experienced as a child between my physical being and the person I identified with continued to resurface. The curiosity of what it would mean for me to change my outer to match my inner lead me on research path; into the process, the availability of resources within South Africa and the introduction of this person I longed to share.
I had met transmen during time spent at FEW events, I had a sense of jealousy and a deeper sense of disconnect with myself.
How was in possible for me to envy and be bitter towards people I barely knew?
Introspection provided no answers, no satisfying answers.
When I met Sibusiso Kheswa in 2013, his own journey struck accord with me. Knowledge of his process provided a sense of hope and relief as this could be the first step to becoming ME. I spent time researching online and following other transmen’s journeys. I grow curious and wanted to further understand what it meant to be transgender and what options were available to me within South Africa. The understanding what it meant to be transgender led me to the realization that I was born in the wrong body. At that point identifying as a butch lesbian served as a betrayal of some sort because it offered no sense of belonging.
Through this realization, I developed a sense of ease in calling myself “him, he” in my private space. This refuge gave comfort to me, however this was not enough. It was not enough to be ME behind closed doors and Keba to everyone else. In my interactions with other transmen I was referred to a senior psychologist at Bara, the most profound and daunting task was when she asked me to live like a man for a year.
Baffled as it was all I knew, I only knew how to live my inner truth, what was different?
What would I be doing differently ‘as a man’?
As the process started, I began to notice the changes, my new treating doctor followed up on side effects and progress as the injections aided in moulding my physical to match my inner.
I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, a Service Desk Analyst at Dimension data. I love writing and reading, I love learning and growth.
I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, the kid who played soccer in high school, the man who wants to leave a legacy of love, a life lived with purpose and a positive impact on society.
I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, you will remember me from first portrait in Faces and Phases as Kebarileng Roseanne Sebetoane.
Allow me to reintroduce myself, I am Mr. Karabo Rick Sebetoane.
My journey is far from over; I have lost loved one, reunited with loved one, felt discouraged, felt alone, I have persevered, I have lost and found myself and through it all I have grown. I have transitioned.
Portraits of Karabo featuring in Faces and Phases series (2006 – 2016), pictured from Left in (2012) and Right in (2016), Parktown, Johannesburg.
“Karabo Rick Sebetoane is an out Transman, born in Kagiso (West-rand of Johannesburg). Karabo joined the activism movement in 2004 through Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), straight after completing Matric in 2003, where he resumed the role of Community Representative.
Through FEW, Karabo has been exposed to various conferences and training, part of which was “The Women In Leadership” training with Gender AIDS Forum (GAF in Durban), he also was part of the first team to represent South Africa at the Chicago Gay Games in 2006 as part of the media team.
Beyond FEW, Karabo worked with Women’sNet, where his love of Information Technology was recognized and emphasized. Prior to the birth of Karabo Rick, Kebarileng Roseanne was the face of “The Rose has Thorns” campaign with a clear objective; to create visibility, educate and eradicate gender-based violence motivated by hate towards lesbian and bisexual women.
He is currently working with the Dimension Data in Bryanston, as an IT Service Desk Analyst since 2015 April.
Karabo loves reading and writing, prefers playing board games (chess) during leisure time, expresses himself well through dancing and writing. Based on the love for dynamics of the human brain, and personalities, Karabo will be enrolling with UNISA to study Clinical Psychology.“
2013 Oct. 13: Frustrations of a transgender man
2013 Oct. 18: Transition is in your hands
2013 Aug. 9: Transgender youth suicide in Johannesburg
2013 Oct. 4: I sensed something was wrong