My femininity is very conservative. I rely on the existence of masculinity to exist. They say in sociology identities are relational. I am black in relation to white people. Queer people are queer in relation to straight people. I am feminine in relation to masculinity. I am a woman in relation to men. I am a trans woman in relation to women. Therefore, identities are relational. This means that if one identity did not exist, another probably would not too. Bringing this to my identity, being a Trans woman. I am only a trans woman in relation to women, being identified as woman biologically, through having a vagina. Sex is therefore given a lot of emphasis in expressing and identifying one’s identity and gender.
I am a trans woman because I do not have a vagina. This is the only reason I therefore cannot be a complete woman by society’s laws. I am therefore put in a position to constantly fight and perform my femininity. This entails wearing dresses constantly, aspiring to be soft spoken and most probably growing my hair and nails, if I do not do this then I therefore immediately and easily fall in the trap of being misgendered.
Looking at my identity as a trans woman I depend on masculinity to fully exist. Masculine bodies confirm my femininity. Masculine bodies make me feel more of a woman because they are men and embody masculinity. I found myself having feelings for this man. He made me feel more like a woman. He would open doors for me. He would let me in first. This man would give me hugs instead of handshakes. He would hold me tight at night, because no one could see me with him in the dark. No one knew this secret, me. He had this thing whereby if we were together and his friends saw him, he would pretend he does not know me, or pretend to be talking to me on professional grounds. We would cuddle and hold each other in his drunken state, because that was the only time he could find the courage tell me he loves me. I stayed with him because he made me happy. I thought it was happiness at least. However, being one’s secret cannot and should not bring me happiness. If is does, which at some point it did, then that means there is something wrong with me.
He never dared to misgender me because I told him I am a woman, although he could not see one, he admitted. He treated me like a woman, because I told him I am one. I remember him telling me this one time that I think there is another guy who I think likes me, and I kinder like him too. He responded and said, “Wait Phumi, is that guy gay?” I was confused and I did not know how to answer his question. This question implicitly erases my whole identity without misgendering me.
Because another man finds me attractive, he must be gay. Is it impossible for a straight man to find me attractive. I am a trans woman. This is my identity. Transness is not a sexuality. It is an identity. I am a woman, and I am attracted to men. What does this make me? Straight I presume so. Trans women are women. For the mere fact that you cannot believe that a man finds me attractive cannot be straight, comes to show that you do not see me as a woman, equivalent to other women. There is a hierarchy, and Trans women are at the bottom of it.
I continue to ask this man, and other people I know;
“would you ever date a woman?”
“Of course, I am straight”.
“Okay” I said… “Would you ever date a Trans women?”
He replied and said, “no. I mean I don’t know”.
How can I go back to a man like that? How can I go back to someone who does not believe in my person? How can that space be safe for me? How can I stupidly believe all this time he likes me? How can I allow myself to be nothing, but a secret? He brought me joy, and I brought him nothing, but a shameful secret.
In conclusion, we still do not see Trans women as women in society, because we are constantly being compared to other women. When women struggles are being discussed trans women are not included in these discussions. Transness is a woman struggle not a Trans struggle. We have alienated trans women from these spaces. Women have, and continued for so long to reject Trans women in their so called woman spaces.
I have personally thought about removing the word trans before the woman, ‘Trans woman”. Does this Trans word not make me less of a woman? Does this word not make it harder to be recognised as a woman in social spaces? I cannot help that I am a woman and that I am in a man’s body, and therefore have some masculine physical biological features. That I cannot run away from this.
I have come to harshly learn that Trans bodies always have to take care of themselves. No one can help us, and I am completely fine with that. How can we ever get justice for ourselves, but the legal and social laws do not recognise nor understand our identities. They say happy Freedom day. How free am I, at night or during the day? I will fight for myself. I will love myself. I have to love myself. I only have me here. This is love I cannot receive from the outside, and that is why I left him.
Written by: Phumelele Nkomozake follow blog :https://mytransevolution.wordpress.com/
Edited by: Lucky Brian Dlamini
Photographer: Beugene Green