Thursday, December 17, 2009
I started my transition just over three months ago. I never moved from where I I lived. That means that my neighbors and people who live or work in my neighborhood have seen me before; when I lived as a guy. Fine, they don't know me, they don't know who I am, but surely they know that this person lives around here. I have lived there for over a year now. Granted, when I began my transition I knew that for me not to have any squabbles with neighbors I should have moved. But getting a house in Nairobi sure is a lot of work and I couldn't jeopardize my work in my new job. So I braved up and continued living. For the first month and a half I looked kinda like my old self. Very little had changed. I only had my ears pierced and thats it. I still had short relaxed hair, I still wore androgynously, but I had breast enhancers on. I was extremely scared every time I went out. I hadn't changed much but now I expected myself to be female and not male and try as much as possible to be convincing enough to everyone and anyone. Definitely this look led to my being confronted by that hotel guard I blogged about here.
The second month saw me change my hairstyle and put on dreadlocks. The ones made with black thread. Again, I was extremely bold in doing this and going out every single day in public and still trying to maintain my femininity amid increasingly confused stares coming my way. I could see the neighbors getting uneasy everytime I passed by. They also would mumble words to themselves whenever id pass by. This still gave me shivers but I braved on. Still not moving. I really love this house. Seeing that I was not confronted by anyone, I felt that it probably was 'kinda' safe to live here and I should continue with my life bravely and not care as to who's who. I got encouraged to continue by some of my friends and one of them told me that I should be ready to face my fears. Again, probably where I would move to could be far worse.
In the third month I again changed my hairstyle. This time I put on a very feminine hairstyle; braids! The braids I have on are very feminine. They are curly, long and black. They give me such a nice look and I really love them. So of course this was going to shake some more ground in my home surroundings. That same week, I put on a skirt for the very first time. I had been wearing jeans and trousers all along. The second week came and I put on a skirt again. Third week, the same. The following day after this third time my friend and neighbor alerted me of something he'd heard being discussed by some neighbors around. It was about this guy who lives around and has started wearing skirts and like a girl! That was me! This was the first time I had heard that I was being discussed. And he told me he had heard it before. Chills ran down my spine. I was petrified beyond comprehension. That night I didn't sleep well. Neither did my mother because immediately after my friend gave me the exposé, I told her about it.
So this means that I need to move. And I need to do this fast! Fine, I still haven't been confronted, but I do not want to continue provoking them in any kind of way because one of the things that my friend heard one guy say was that the guy would make advances to me so as to try and find out if I really am a girl or something. I am now looking for a house and will probably move by the end of the year or early next year. I hope to find a good house in a good neighborhood where people mind their own lives and there are no nosy neighbors!
Pray for me my dear friends. Pray that I get a good house that I can call home. Where I can live as myself without fear of being ostracized or anything!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is an umbrella term for:
- Cross dressers
- Gender Queers
- Gender Benders, Gender Non-conforming
The main problem with most of humanity is that culture has taught us that there are only two traditional gender models; also known as binary roles.
- Sex (body has) Male (penis) Female (vagina)
- Gender Role (behaves stereotypically) Masculine Feminine
- Gender Identity (identify as) Man Woman
- Sexual Orientation (gets attracted to) Woman Man
Definitely, a huge number of people do not fit into these models. We must recognize gender complexities; that its vast, explosive and non-rigid.
Before talking about transgender, we need to begin by breaking down 'gender'. Its the critical piece in the word. I will use the above to break down.
- Sex – Its the physical, biological or anatomical sexual markers. Strongly related to genitalia.
- Gender Role – Its the social understanding of how we are in a gendered sense in the world. Its the public, social and perceived expectations of gendered acts or expressions. Something we do or something other people see in us.
- Gender Identity – Simply the self conception/perception of one's gender.
So back to the terms.
- Transgender – A person who doesn't conform or identify with the gender expectations associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
- Transsexual - A transgender person who has changed or is in the process of changing their physical sex/characteristics by undergoing medical/hormonal treatment such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and/or sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
- Transvestite – A person who sometimes wears clothes traditionally worn by and associated with the opposite sex. Confused sometimes for Drag Queens/Kings.
- Gender queer, gender non-conforming – A person who does not identify as a man or a woman. (Eg. There was this person on a documentary who was born female but felt that they identified more as a gay man)
Trans Man or transgender man – a person who was assigned female at birth but who lives and/or identifies as a man.
Trans Woman or transgender woman – a person who was assigned male at birth but who lives and/or identifies as a woman.
Stereotypically, most transgender people consider themselves as straight. That means, if its a trans man, then he is attracted to women and considers himself as a straight man. If its a trans woman, then she is attracted to men and considers herself as a straight woman.
Most of the time, transgender people are confused for being either gay men who dress as women full time or lesbians who dress as men full time. This is not so as gender identity ans sexual orientation are two very different things. In a nutshell, trans people can be gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, pansexual...you name it. It begins with them describing themselves as whatever gender they feel best then goes to identifying what sexual orientation they fit in.
Almost all transgendered people 'suffer' from gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria. This is a psychological 'disease' that describes what these people go through. Some people in the world are beginning to push for transgender people not to be categorized as 'psychologically challenged' persons. Others, especially in places where the Transgender movement is still very young, feel that that would make it far more difficult for them to gain rights and access to medical processes.
I could go on, but indeed this (in my view) covers much of the basics. In Kenya, the Trans Movement is very young. There are few trans people out there fighting for rights but it is growing. One of the founders of the only trans organization has made tremendous leaps in fighting for hers and her fellows rights through engaging with the media (Being interviewed my media houses about being transgendered and in Kenya), being actively involved with mainstream human rights organizations such as the KHRC, writing and publishing articles in mainstream news networks such as Pambazuka News, engaging with the medical fraternity like the societies dealing with psychology in Kenya, the Kenyan medical board, the big heads in the largest Kenyan hospital, enganement with legal professionals who could assist in providing frameworks for legal aid to trans and intersex persons regarding name change in legal identification documents and much much more.
She is a person that makes me want to do more for the Kenyan community in terms of advocacy and sensitization.
I really hope that this long long post has and will continue to be of great help to all that come across it and I also hope that people learn from it.
“Vivre et Laisser Vivre”
Monday, December 14, 2009
As the days go by, into my last three months of my job, I am now changing tact. Indeed the words of my superiors made me think a lot about where I am headed and what I should do with my life and with my many talents. It came out clearly that I am immensely resourceful and have lots of potential to do great things and go many places. This made me think about myself and what I am to do with me. I know all the things they said about me, but to be honest, this transition has made my confidence levels drop! I have to be honest with myself. Something else I was told was not to blame my laxity on my transition. This is also true. Somehow I have blamed even my lack of sociality on the fact that I am a transgender and in Kenya. Truth be told, life as a trans girl in Kenya ain't easy. I know Ive said this before. It sure ain't. But once you get over yourself and start living, it can get easier. (My boss' tha best!). She told me that I knew that life would become more complicated once I began my transition and its a decision I made knowing full well the consequences. In all honesty, I have asked myself these questions time and again: am I on the right path? Is it all worth it? Will I trip, fall and turn back? Which life is better? This one or the old one? Am I happier? Will I make it? These questions all get answered somehow in the next few minutes after asking myself. I ensure I end up with positive energy and that I feel fine. I am beautiful and I thank God for that. Definitely, walking around the streets of Nairobi make m nervous, I am less nervous now than before. I feel more confident because of my new hairstyle. It gives me the femme look that I always yearned for. I had small dreadlocks before but even those still made me a bit uncomfy. Either way, just being a tranny in Nairobi is hard work and very brave!
So the day I was alighting from a bus and just as I stood up to alight, I noticed something. My 'friend downstairs' was peeping out! Somehow it had slid out of where I had carefully tucked it away. To make matters worse, I was wearing a tight short skirt! OMG! I was so scared! It was a good thing that I was headed for work so I walked as fast as I could in my high heels trying as hard as I can to make sure its not visible! That experience was terrible. Its happened before but only when I'm wearing trousers or jeans (I wear these most of the times) and so its usually not much of a scare. But that day's incident really freaked me out!
I began wearing skirts immediately I got my new hairdo. It somehow gave me the confidence to strut out into Nairobi looking glamorous in a skirt; something I had never done and had been looking forward to for such a long time. This was my third time out in a skirt and it always gave me the jitters. Mostly it did because I'm usually uncomfortable with my slightly broad shoulders and smaller hips and wider waistline. I have to admit, I was blessed with a naturally curvy body so I've always wanted to flaunt that. But seeing how broad my shoulders were made me a little scared. So I always make sure I'm wearing a jacket or jumper on top. I am yet to get the courage to walk in Nairobi with a tight top and bottom on, showing all my curves without being scared.
Something else that I still am very conscious about is my neck. I have an AA. Of course I don't like it but its there. So when I'm out in public I'm usually wearing a scarf, no matter how hot it may be because I'm scared of people noticing my AA. Again, because of facial hair and years of constant and frequent shaving, my skin below the chin is very rough and shadowy. Its easy to tell that I have been shaving and I have those razor bumps and the dark shades below my neck. On the face I hide those with foundation but having an oily face only makes my face look plump and shiny; something I definitely don't want to see. I keep telling myself that I ain't the only girl in Nairobi let alone the whole of Kenya who has skin issues and I should just be okay with myself and try to be thankful for what I already have. I also keep reminding myself that there are plenty of girls out there that don't have a curvy body and still have wide-looking shoulders and that I should be thankful that I have one!
Either way, I am doing my best and I am thankful to God for giving me the strength to carry on. I know life will be difficult but I am able to make it through and make it big.
No matter the circumstances I will survive. I will make the best out of my life!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I liked this post I saw somewhere and I thought I'd share.
Written by Lo Nyambok
Monday, 04 August 2008
MIRIAM RIVERA- MODEL
Well, about a month ago someone had written a NOTE on facebook to explain how complicated it is to try pleasing everyone when it comes to GENDER ISSUES (especially in the US/UK etc). The thing is, everyone wants to be identified based on whatever gender they are- it might not necessarily be the gender they were when they were born. Trust me, it gets so complicated to attempt to get everyone happy and stay POLITICALLY CORRECT etc etc
PLEASE CIRCLE ONE GENDER THAT PERTAINS TO YOU:
HERE IS MY RESPONSE TO THAT NOTE:
I took this multi-cultural class last semester and I thought I knew everything about everything. Until a student explained something on TRANS-SEXUAL (NOT TRANSGENDER, there is a big difference.)
(As a WOMAN- I feel like a damn raging retarded alien sometimes KEYWORD: SOMETIMES), all the changing hormonal balances- makes me UN-HUMAN sometimes- but am sure its nothing close to what a TRANS- GENDER person goes through on a daily.)
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT MIRIAM
I didnt watch the show, but saw something about it one time on VH1- The Men were in complete shock @ the end of the show...
I always stick to one main principle in my life- GOD IS LOVE- period!!!! Meaning the same GOD who took his time to create YOU (As special as you are) is actually the same GOD who also took his time to create Trans- persons, and we are all different as different can be but we are also unified by one CREATOR.
Its like someone telling me that its UNNATURAL to be AFRICAN or its UNNATURAL to be A WOMAN (Wouldnt that be the most ridiculous absolute stupidity that anyone could possible ever say??? lol!) I try and imagine my reaction to that and its quite hilarious. I know that I used a super simple analogy, but its really that simple. They are who they are and choose to live their lives based on whatever suits and makes them happy, so why should I care or lose sleep over people who have nothing to do with me.
Actually that was not even my POINT- my point as you can read from my 1st sentence is that I thought I knew but I didnt. This student explained to us that TRANS- GENDER/TRANS- SEXUAL people are considered STRAIGHT. (Now at this point my entire jaw hit the floor- I was too confused.)
Meaning if a person perceived themselves as a FEMALE and believe it in their mind their minds that are truly FEMALE even though they have a "WRONG" body of a man- then they actually get attracted to a MALE.
On February 27 MIRIAM WAS HOSPITALIZED with multiple broken bones and internal bleeding after she was attacked and thrown from the 4th floor window of her New York apartment.
By Lo (Enigmaress)
I must say that it been one hell of a week! And I hope thats just but a phrase! But it somehow shows what it is that I am dealing with. Somehow as I type this, I remember those days that I used to update my journal at home and also some of my previous posts on this blog. I hate being boring and at this point, I hate what I have been doing to myself. This post will be like just one paragraph because I will be jumping from one topic to the other as I let my mind run wild. I tell you guys I am not okay. I am sure that as I type this there will be tons of grammatical errors and phrases that may sound as 'direct translations' from my mother tongue! I feel like a terrible mess. I am better now but as far as I am concerned, there is so much work I need to do that I am now left wondering where to start. I like doing this. Writing down my thoughts, it calms my nerves, helps me think stuff through. Its kinda like a therapy for me apart from talking to myself when I am alone in my house. I tell myself that it is this 'therapy' that has enabled me to be the person I am now. I am very young and yet I am fully aware of myself as a person. Compared to my age mates, I consider myself very mature. My age mates are busy 'enjoying life', drinking and partying, hooking up and breaking up. All that stuff. So as I was saying, I am a mess. I say this because I have just come out of a meeting where I was extensively grilled on my status in the organization I work for. I have been described as lax and lacking in good work ethic. My effort has been extremely low and areas where my input was greatly required was either not forthcoming or was very poor in execution. Basically, most of my work sucked! Most of these words are things that I had noticed for myself and was already mad at me for them. I consider myself a very strong person and very serious with the work that I do. I came from a very strong financial background and now my new work area encompasses very new stuff. It has a lot to deal with activism, report writing, documentation, filing, administration work...so much! Its all very new to me I admit and being here for the last three months has taught me a great deal. Apart from giving me the plat form to become myself fully and not to hide, it has given me the opportunity to discover new talents that I previously didn't know I had. I am so glad I got this internship. I know it wont last long but I will make the best of it. I have met people of all sorts and I have seen how people work in the community. I cannot consider myself an expert of sorts because I am still quite young in age and also in this activism work but I must say that the environment is quite interesting. I am a person who analyzes the way people behave and the way they react to situations so that I can know how best to approach and/or interact with them. These past few months I have seen very many personalities. Definitely the ones that have stuck more are those of the people I work with but I must admit that I would like to engage more, interact more, meet more people, know how to push the transgender and intersex issues across so they can be addressed, and most importantly, see the realization of my dream of returning back to the society.
On matters more personal, I am doing fine. Life is hard people, it is indeed. Being a trans woman in Kenya and specifically in Nairobi is hard. I'm sure most of you will be saying 'so is where I am', but I'm saying this because I want to. I want to let it be known that its hard. I don't mean to say that its not possible, I'm just pointing out the reality that you gotta stick your chin up and brave it up. From what I see, I only get looks here and there, especially when I am dressed quite androgynously. One cant tell what the person looking at you is thinking and so I try not to worry too much. I have not been confronted by anyone regarding my gender ever since that hotel incident. Even at home, the only lady that was giving me worries is now aware, somewhat, of what my problems are. Somehow the fact that I looked so ladylike before when I used to dress in boy clothes(including suits!) helped for her to understand. Personally when I look in the mirror I can point out so many things that are un-feminine and/or very masculine. I am happy that I got a hairdo that accentuates my femininity and gives me a very pretty look. (I hate tooting my own horn!). I however am still very conscious of the fact that I have an adams apple and more discouragingly, my facial hair. The good thing is that I use foundation to hide my blemishes and black spots and the famous 'five-o'clock shadow'. The bad thing is that my face is very oily. So when I have foundation on I look like I have so much oil on and I cannot wipe my face off! It makes me feel very self conscious about it so I look at people to see whether they are looking at me. I have to say that I am more confident nowadays about myself and I am so happy that this girl FINALLY came out and is living her life. My superior told me, "Get over yourself. You have to now focus on other bigger issue now that you're tackling your transition. You cannot let the transition issues determine how far you can push as an individual!" That may have sounded harsh but I took it positively. It was her way of telling me that now that I am no longer battling my issues internally, I can start doing things that will push me further into what I intend to achieve in life. Now that I am facing the world as a tranny, I should embrace the opportunity with open arms and face the world head on. Its time to stop hiding and playing it safe!
Gosh! I do have so many things id like to share. Now unfortunately as my mind bounces back and forth on what to write on, it leaves me black and I am left typing away on what is going on in there. I get afraid that as I post this someone will read this and think 'oh how so boring! Just someone mumbling about their boring life!'. Haha!!
So I went to a lab for some tests that my endocrinologist wanted me to do before she prescribed estadiol for me. I still have a scan to do. I think I mentioned it. She wants me to be checked whether I have internal female parts!! like ovaries and stuff!! goooosh!!!!
Anywho, I did the test and I cant wait for the results. The only thing delaying me is the availability of funds. Transition is very expensive and most of the times we ask ourselves whether its all worth it. I am quite blessed to have a paying job and an extremely supportive mother who has and still is giving me all sorts of support where she can and more importantly financial assistance. Again, here in Kenya the transgender issue is not very well known. So most of the doctors who are aware of the condition are of upmarket level and therefore charge very high rates. From the responses I got from my blogging friends it seems that the costs may be somewhat similar but since I am still beginning I will put in what I myself have gone through and have paid. For example, my initial doses of hormones was antiandrogens. I am taking spironolactone and finasteride. Spironolactone costs about Ksh.6 per 25mg tablet and my daily dose is currently 150gms per day. Therefore its about Ksh.1,080 per month. Thats about US$ 13.50. Then the finasteride costs about Ksh.50 per 10mg tab and I take one tab daily. So thats about Ksh1,500 per month. US$ 19 per month. The test I did cost me Ksh.5,000, and that was after a discount! That was US$ 62.50. I hope it doesn't turn out recurrent! The scan will probably cost me about the same amount. I am yet to know how much the orchiectomy will be but from what I was told, it may be between the ranges of Ksh.10,000 and Ksh.20,000 (US$ 125 to 250).
Lemme leave it at that. I will update more soon. Right now I have to concentrate on making myself more employable! My bosses need to know I be a hard worker!!! LOL!!
"Vivre et Laisser Vivre!"
Friday, December 4, 2009
So I saw this pps and I felt I should share it today so that my next post shall go back to my (near-boring) life!!
We convince ourselves that life will be better
once we are married, have a baby, then another.
Then we get frustrated because our
children are not old enough, and that all
will be well when they are older.
Then we are frustrated because they
reach adolescence and we must deal
with them. Surely we’ll be happier
when they grow out of the teen years.
We tell ourselves our life will be better when our spouse gets his/her
act together, when we have a nicer car, when we can take a vacation,
when we finally retire.
The truth is that there is no
better time to be happy than
right now. If not, then when?
Your life will always be full of
challenges. It is better to
admit as much and to decide
to be happy in spite of it all.
For the longest time, it seemed that life was about to start. Real life.
But there was always some obstacle along the way, an ordeal to get
through, some work to be finished, some time to be given, a bill to
be paid. Then life would start.
I finally came to understand that those obstacles were life.
That point of view helped
me see that there isn’t
any road to happiness.
Happiness IS the road.
So, enjoy every moment.
Stop waiting for school to end, for a return to school, to lose ten pounds,
to gain ten pounds, for work to begin, to get married, for Friday evening,
for Sunday morning, waiting for a new car, for your mortgage to be paid
off, for spring, for summer, for fall, for winter, for the first or the fifteenth
of the month, for your song to be played on the radio, to die, to be
reborn… before deciding to be happy.
Happiness is a VOYAGE, not a DESTINATION.
There is no better time to be happy than…
Live and enjoy the moment.
Now, think and try to answer these questions:
1 – Name the 5 richest people in the world.
2 – Name the last 5 Miss Universe winners.
3 – Name the last 10 Nobel Prize winners.
4 – Name the last 10 winners of the Best Actor Oscar.
Can’t do it? Rather difficult, isn ’t it?
Don’t worry, nobody remembers that.
Applause dies away!
Trophies gather dust!
Winners are soon forgotten.
Now answer these questions:
1 – Name 3 teachers who contributed to your education.
2 – Name 3 friends who helped you in your hour of need.
3 – Think of a few people who made you feel special.
4 – Name 5 people that you like to spend time with.
More manageable? It ’s easier,
The people who mean
something to your life are not
rated “the best”, don’t have the
most money, haven’t won the
They are the ones who care
about you, take care of you,
those who, no matter what,
stay close by.
Think about it for a moment. Life is very short!
And you, in which list are you? Don’t know?
Let me give you a hand.
You are not among the most
to whom I remember to
tell this message…
Some time ago, at the Seattle
Olympics, nine athletes, all
mentally or physically
challenged, were standing on
the start line for the 100 m race.
The gun fired and the race
began. Not everyone was
running, but everyone wanted
to participate and win.
They ran in threes, a boy tripped
and fell, did a few somersaults
and started crying. The other
eight heard him crying.
They slowed down and looked
behind them. They stopped and
came back… All of them...
A girl with Down’s
Syndrome sat down next to
him, hugged him & asked,
“Feeling better now?”
Then, all nine walked
shoulder to shoulder to the
The whole crowd stood up and applauded.
And the applause lasted a very long time …
People who witnessed this still talk about it.
Because deep down inside
us, we all know that the
most important thing in
life is much more than
winning for ourselves.
The most important thing in this life is to help others to win.
Even if that means slowing down and changing our own race.
“A candle loses
nothing if it is
used to light