voiceless voice, my transition in Zambia

My name is Voiceless voice. I am a Zambian Transman.  I have heard the word  crazy thrown at me  many times all because i choose to  live my truth. While it is a fact that  I did not choose to be Trans, given a choice in another life, i would still  choose to be my true self in spite of  all the hardships i face living in a country that  not only denies but strongly  condemns my existence.

I turned  31 recently  and my journey of social  transitioning began in 2011 when I fully understood about gender identity  and expression following an eye opening  conversation with a  friend who was working for a Trans organisation. It was this time when i  knew i finally had a name for what i had felt for many years.  I became more excited to begin my physical transition. I couldn’t wait any longer and since i was living  alone and with no interference from family and with the  support of close friends in the LGBTI community i felt more secure, thus In 2012, I began self medicating testosterone because Trans specific  healthcare in Zambia is limited to some private Doctors  who can assist discretely but this is very costly so the  black market is cheaper way to get Testosterone.

It felt so good after all this is what   i had wished for all my life. Within months as  major physical changes started so did   challenges. I came out to my mother and she accepted me. However family , people from my community  where on my case they needed answers for the changes. I had to stand for my self  and come out as Trans but the more i tried to sensitise them about gender identity issues and what was happening in my case , the more humiliation, stigma and discrimination I faced. The level of ignorance about sexual orientation and gender identity issues is pathetically disturbing even some within the LGBTIQ community have no understanding of the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity.  Transition in Zambia is a taboo although people still do it.

To save my energy and for my wellbeing I simply isolated myself from some family members and some friends who treated me badly. I  no longer wanted to hear “what do u think God thinks about you”. I was already having my own internal  battlefield.

I was happy for doing what I felt made me have peace within me and so i  thought it would be  best to isolate myself, but the harsh words, the humiliation,physical and mental violation, discrimination and stigma i had encountered just led to depression and more anxiety.  This experience really affected me so much now until its hard to trust people and to avoid further violations i live in my own shell. I have become a  loner , my social life is almost dead as  result i miss out on important LGBTQ events and knowledge i know this is unhealthy for any human being. I have tried dating  but that has not been easy. Most of the people i date  always want to talk me out of transitioning and this always  leads to misunderstandings. I hope to be with  someone who can walk with me  through this journey.

Unfortunately in 2016 i  lost my job which was my only source of income this means i have to struggle to get food pay bills  let alone afford  testosterone even though  it costs about zmk80 (8-10 USD).
Being off Testosterone  has stolen a  major part of my life and my happiness . I lost all the confidence i had, my  emotions are on a roller coaster major way, most times i feel empty, lost , misplaced i wish i could run relocate somewhere safer. I suffered from depression and  i turned to alcohol and drugs self harm and  hated eating so i lost a lot of weight.

I am a computer technician by profession,  a writer and a peer psychosocial counsellor. Getting  a job after my transition has been so hard mostly because my physical appearance and the gender marker and names  on my identity  card do not match.I have tried reaching out to the  few LGBT and Trans organisations for support with healthcare or a job   but that has not yielded any positive results.

The other thing that makes me sick to the stomach is my chest dysphoria. The breasts remind me of the limits I have  accessing  recreation places  such as gym. In some instances i no longer pass as male, so sometimes people give me rude stares and my breast will be showing  since i no longer have a binder  i used to have one which i had to throw away because it was in tatters.

Accessing  public toilets, is a nightmare, so if i am out i usually keep the urine until my bladder hurts. Not having a stand to pee affects my confidence peeing in Male toilets and using  female toilets can stir up trouble for me.

The hate and stigma also affects my family. When i moved back with my mom  many people and relatives  convinced her that  i was cursed and needed prayers  some even encouraged her to burn my clothes and replace them with skirts and dresses. My mom has stood by me through it all…

On a more positive note i have been undergoing self rehab and that has been a success. I have also  realised i have a purpose in this world.  People from church tried to separate me from the love of  God. But i love God who healed and helped me.  God loves me and knows who i am.

Dear friend, you be  may be in the same place i was a few months ago, but  i  encourage you to  keep believing in yourselves no matter how harsh the world may be. You are still gorgeous and awesome. Be yourself and dont let anybody change who you are. You are a miracle child.

Love over every thing.

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