International Day of Transgender Visibility provides an opportunity for all of us in our truth, power and beauty, to reflect on our journey and power as individuals, community and Batswana. It is a privilege to introduce another beautiful product from one of our partnerships, the first ever documentary on LGBTQ+ youth in four languages, centered on our experiences in Botswana, as Batswana.
This will be the official link for distribution. It is a great way to commemorate a day that we hope in the near future, will be less about our struggles, and more about our successes as change agents, a community and as Batswana. We hope you are safe during this COVID-19 crisis and in supporting the need for all of us to exercise care and physically distance ourselves; please enjoy TI YAPO: Matshelo A Rona (translated WE ARE HERE in Kalanga: Our Lives in Setswana).
There is an ongoing internalized stigma within our community on other members living with the virus. This often limits a lot of what they want to do in their lives. You may find that a trans man or woman living with HIV find it hard to have someone to build a relationship with because of the stigma that comes along with disclosure. There is also an ongoing disclosure of people’s status to potential persons mostly done to sabotage another member who is living with the virus.
We are one community that severely abuses alcohol and other substances. We do that for variant reasons. Some individuals abuse substances to cope from toxic environments they live in while some abuse substances to forget different stresses they are going through. The most abused substances within our community is alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. These substances are taken in at a very high level and most of individuals when intoxicated by these substances cannot make clear decisions on what they want, and some end up getting raped or in unprotected sexual activities.
Unlike the cisgender persons it is not easy for a person who is Transgender to fit into the employed individuals as their gender identity remains a challenge to many potential employers. This often leads to them not being offered a job because they do not behave in a normal way they are expected to. This also leaves them jobless and in poverty. Most people from our community are not employed though they have been to tertiary institutions and are qualified. Most of us live by this trending line called hustling where in most cases we are involved in small black-market businesses. These businesses do not return us large earnings we can sustain ourselves with. We do have NGOs for advocating for Trangender people, but they do have very limited resources as they also live off grants from outside.
As the society as large can’t accept us for who we are because we remain abomination to some people, we remain strong and focused on how we want our lives to be like. Some families are ashamed of speaking about their members who are Transgender. They do that mostly to save themselves embarrassment and shunning from other members of the society. In the black society being Transgender will always remain a challenge as they believe we adopt the western culture and we are not real. The society still treat our community with so many injustices and always perpetuates these forms of hatred going on. We are regarded as a threat to the nature.
“There is a lot of derogatory and loathing in the comments.”
Although the initial creation of these social media platforms was to propagate positive vibes some individuals wrongly use them. Every time something is written on social media about our community there is always a form of hatred resurfacing during commenting from members of the society. There is a lot of derogatory and loathing in the comments. There have been so many incidents where individuals and Facebook pages post photos on either a gay person or a transgender person mostly articles where they are sharing their stories and the comments from people came out perpetuating negativity. Some comments also came in with insults attached and curses on how we should all die so the world can be a better place without us. Also, in these social media streets we tend to face a lot of cyber bullying. We are bullied in many forms, sometimes a person downloads our images and post them to groups or to their timelines so people can comment. This can be emotionally challenging and weighing on our self esteems. This can also leave us questioning our existence.
BATTLING MY MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS Sometimes I feel like maybe I whine too much that’s why I choose to keep quiet.i would be there,in the middle of the night crying my eyeballs out and I wouldn’t even know why I would be crying. But i cry, A LOT. Until there isn’t enough water in my body to let the tears flow. It sucks honestly, fighting this battle i cant seem to win because Some days are normal and some are excruciatingly painful and all I can do is stay in bed all day. Do nothing. stare into the abyss and think and think and think because I cant sleep.day or night, i cannot fathom the strength to sleep.so instead I think,think myself into a much deeper hole and have no choice but sit in it because nobody knows shit that goes on in my mind. There have been weeks I stayed without food.id know I am kinda hungry but day it day out I didn’t have the strength to lift my head from my pillow and allow food into my system.when those who see try force me to eat,I end of vomiting.these weeks where I dont eat,or get out of bed. I haven’t in me the strength to even do a small thing like bathing. I know people may think I’m being pathetic but had anyone ever have their body disobey them like mine disobeys me?I swear I’d know I probably stink,my nails in dirt from all the hair I pluck out my scalp,my teeth probably yellow because, I just stay in bed, cry, scream have conversations with myself.i just stay there.numb. doctors recommended pills and sometimes they work,while sometimes they dont. Like recently…I woke up feeling so low I took my everyday dose,I waited,and waited,and waited.until I took another dose because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I didn’t want to exist, I couldn’t get this hurt out of my system,I couldn’t breathe.i just sat there.and cried.for things that made sense and those that didn’t, I cried and I called out to the world to be a bit lenient on me. Battling mental health illnesses is an exhausting thing,I just hope someday I will finally master my own mind to control it instead of the other way around. “Breathe, you’re not drowning”
ANXIETY For the longest i tried to make sense of my life and it was all just surreal. All my responses were forever in defense mode and this brought in the anxiety because sweetheart, the trust issues I had for this world kept increasing. To this day I dont even trust myself because yes,forgiving myself seems to be a futile process. BIPOLAR I kept trying to tell myself that I am not at myself to have been diagnosed with bipolar because they honestly drove me off the edge. So when the doctor told me about my anger problems and how they making me all bipolar’ish,I smiled and said to him “I heard bipolar people have the strength of 7 men, at least now I can always fight him off if he tried to do it again”. I hysterically laughed after saying that because I wanted,no I needed my sick humor to come to my rescue but look at me now. PERSONALITY DISORDER This one is a new one.Learnt about it late last year when I got booked into a psychiatric hospital because yes breathing gets harder on most days than others. I think I should make a quick note that I cant help but feel like this one is a misdiagnosis because it came just after I told my psychologist that I want a gender reassignment everything. He said, “perhaps you want to change this body because so much has happened to it” and honestly that statement carried so much even if I didn’t want to admit it. (Gender talks in the next post,I promise).
DEPRESSION The first time I walked into a psychologist room was at 14 after the rape. Disclaimer: I am afraid to get into details about the rape because I cannot talk about it and not dream about it. It’s a tedious and annoying things really. Anyway, my focus had declined and school was getting affected. Trust me,everyone who knows Bubbly knows that whichever space they inhibit, its very much noticeable. At this time,I was a loner and wanted nothing to do with anyone because as fucked up as it is;I saw the perpetrator on a daily basis and it tore my entire being apart. I dont even remember how or why I thought of cutting because much as I try to remember, I dont think I had any knowledge of what self-harm was/is but that was the first time I slit my wrists. I can still remember how I felt at that exact moment. My throat was tight, I couldn’t breathe and I started punching walls and breaking things. The pain I felt inside of me was overwhelming me and all I knew was I wanted out. One of the things I had been breaking proved to be sharp so I pretty much blacked out after I held it in my hand. I recall I could breathe, looking at that blood drip it felt as if the pain left and oozed out with it. That momentary relief was what I needed. However,the emotional abuse from home didn’t make it any better so it drove me off the edge. I over dozed and found myself at the hospital. That’s when they told me I may be suffering from depression and they all wanted to find my triggers and what could be why we were in that position. I wailed because I didn’t know how or where to start. How on earth was I supposed to tell a stranger that my mothers boyfriend who taught at my school raped me and he is still walking?
MY MENTAL HEALTH It’s me again,I did promise to come back and talk about all the other crazy things Bubbly. So here I am. But before I go on,I need it to be known that I write these to help the next person who may be going through what I went through know that they are not alone. I do not in anyway want anyone to feel sorry for me because I am genuinely learning how to do all of this myself.