“There is strength in standing for what you believe in.”

Names:  May 

Age: 28

Country: Zimbabwe

Transman, Gay

QM:  How is it being  a transman living in Zimbabwe

MT: Firstly because of my appearance and dressing I am often interrogated by authorities about my gender marker for example at school or at a  hospital. In public most people who do not know me do not harass me so much since I pass as male. My challenge mostly comes when looking for employment, this explains why it has been very hard for me to find a job even though I know I have the necessary qualifications sometimes discrimination and stigma which I have been exposed to, make me think twice before applying for a job.

Another struggle is accessing gender-affirming health services in Zimbabwe whether private or public.  Consequently, some people resort to self-medicating or relocating to neighbouring South Africa, however people still face the challenge of suitable changing identification cards. For me personally, i find it really hard when it comes to accessing reproductive health services, I am often interrogated by nurses which I  find humiliating and tormenting.I live in a high-density suburb and most people know each other and also like to pry into other people’s lives, so even using public restrooms for example in a  club gets really scary, just like in school days it’s my bladder that suffers.  I end up avoiding being too social so I am usually at home . Most times I am subjected to transphobic insults and violence by people in my community, others will pretend to be friendly only because they want to intrude,  at as times you are forced to respond to the most degrading questions just hoping to be accepted.  The ostracisation by family, community and church can be very painful especially when you need support.

When it comes to body politics, my dysphoria mostly concerns my weight which makes me feel insecure,  I do not like being overweight, just as much as I despise menstruation which is a harsh reminder of the body that I am in.

QM: What keeps you going?

MT: Even though there are no concrete psychosocial support systems that are responsive to the needs of transdiverse people in Zimbabwe,  my strongest support network are my friends in the trans community,  we have each other as a trans community and we also have supportive allies  amongst human rights organisations and concerned individuals. My strategy when dealing with  family is that of avoidance, so whenever a sibling wants to pick a fight or yell, i simply walk away  so the issue does not escalate into transphobic insults, because any mistake I make  is easily blamed on my being ‘gay’, as much as this kills inside, its better  than violence. When it comes to society and my dressing , i have resolve that i will not  compromise how i dress to suit societal norms. I dress as a man and I also have to make sure I bind all the time, it is painful but I have to do it   ignored to avoid being questioned or harassed in many spaces

QM: In your struggles what are you most proud of?

 MT: Myself because I am able to stand for what I believe in, even though I  know its a long bumpy painful road.

QM: What do you do for a living?

MT: Living in a country with above the roof unemployment levels, like most youths, I am also unemployed, however,  I engage in various informal businesses activities to earn a living.

QM: What are your aspirations in life (for you or the Trans community in your country)

 To further my studies and make a difference for the trans* community to end stigma and discrimination.

QM: If you had one wish what would it be?

MT: For my family to accept me the way l am and to accept my partner the same way they accept those of my siblings.

QM: What inspires you?

MT: My dreams inspire me most

QM: Your solidarity message for transdiverse people in the world.

 MT: Stand tall for what we believe in, utilise every opportunity you get to speak out against all  injustices.  Amplify voices of others in the community who are in a worse position than you, because there is strength in standing for what you believe in.

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