Hello. My name is Thulani (3rd part)

I found myself feeling lonely all the time so I started talking to myself and hearing my girly voice made me throw up. I hated my small hands and my boobs. I had to tell someone before it killed me. I tried to talk to my neighbor but she never even invited me in. There is no sense of patriotism within them and this made me miss home. That’s the thing about decisions sometimes you question them. And what if one day I wake up and I realize I wanted to be a girl all this time? How do I know I will feel eternally comfortable in a boy’s body? Should I just accept my fate and endure it? I asked myself.

 I wondered if I had the chance to at least try to be me, how would I be sure? Transgenders males usually start dressing like boys at an early age and change certain things about themselves but I didn't have that luxury because I couldn't disappoint my parents and our church. They would see me as immoral and be denying God’s wishes.

I was wearing pants to cover my hairy legs, sitting at the table in the corner of the bookstore while I was reading “Gender Outlaw” by Kate Bornsteim. A handsome and very tall man came up to me and said something in his own dialect. I think there is something mysterious and attractive about people who carry big secrets like me.

“I don't understand” I said.
“So you are interested in transgender issues?!” He insisted. 
“Why? How do you know?” My hands were shaking, I was sweating.
“I can see the book…”
 “Uhm!” I breathed with more ease. “Yes, I think it is interesting.”
 “Interesting or desperate?” He said. I was speechless with his ignorance.
“How is transitioning desperate?”
“Are you that mad to a point to have surgery to change your birth sex?”
“Me?” I asked.
“I am not saying you, I am talking about transgenders…”
“People glorify others who would go under the knife to increase their boobs, to change their nose or to look slim but they don't support sex change…” I said. 
“Appearance is one thing, gender is something else. I really don't support or oppress anything. It’s not my call!” He was so selfish like any other Yodesan. 

He invited me to go have coffee. I wasn't attracted to him at all but I wanted to talk to someone, I had been feeling lonely in this hopeless city for the past four months and I feel comfortable around guys because deep inside I want to be just like them.

We talked for hours about how he doesn’t believe in God and his theory about how the whole LGBT community should move to China because they are not procreating. He was literally insane and loud. When the bill came he didn't offer to pay for me and I thought it was impolite but Yodesans are really self-absorbed and I was getting used to that. 

When people are from different nations they always overlook what they don't understand. Women are very independent here and they would feel disrespected if he tried to pay the bill because it was not a date and it was just a cheap coffee. One of the migration rules is trying to copy everything they do here to seem normal and always convert the money to your currency in your head.

I still had a lot of things to buy to finish my flat and I needed help. I didn't know anyone. I called the guy from the bookstore to ask for a ride to the supermarket and he didn't mind. On the way, he asked me a hundred questions and I don't like questions because I always think people know. In the supermarket, I saw a toddler walking apparently alone so I decided to follow him so I would be sure he was safe. His mother came and looked at me like I was some criminal and gave me a side eye. I couldn't understand why some people are so suspicious of everything and ungrateful. It was more difficult to transition to a Yodesan than a man. 

I couldn't feel completely at home here, it felt like when you go to your fancy aunt’s house and you can’t touch anything or seat on the couch in a cozy way. I didn't ask his name because it would be easier for me to simply ignore him after what I was about to do. But he told me. Yali was really proud of his name. He explained to me how African names mean a lot to them because that was the only thing slaves owned. “When you don't have anything, at least you have a name.” He said. His name meant “Trust me” and he also told me he wanted to name his first son “Thulani” because it meant “I am ok now”.

He was a genuine man and I started looking at Yodesans in another way, not everyone was ambitious at least not him because he was really passionate about his career as a photographer. His frankness and how down to earth he was, was winning me every day. I don't know if I liked men but I liked him and that it was all that mattered at that time.

I went to his flat and he asked me if I was willing to do a photo-shoot for him. I accepted because that was going to be the last memory of this person I was refusing to be. His place had all white walls it was more like a photography studio than a flat. He adjusted my head for me to look straight to the camera and he looked into my eyes and I felt shy for the first time around a guy. He didn't stop looking at me for a few seconds and I was really becoming uncomfortable.

 “When are you going to start shooting?” I asked.
 “I need to find your soul first.” he said. He was so deep and I just smiled. I had not smile in a long time. 

He made me question the process, Do I really want this? Is it safe? He started taking several pictures at the same time and the flash just made it easier for my eyes to bleed and I started crying. He looked at me and said “Whatever it is I am here.” I missed my mom, my home and pretending to be ok. He hugged me and I hugged him back. 

I thought about suicide… I needed to shut down this mission. I was taking it to my grave. There was no way to fix this. It was eating at my soul. The shame, the cowardliness living within me would never let me go through with this.

His smell reminded me of the grass from our garden at home and I wanted to be around him all the time. He gave me a feeling of release, a way to escape from my religious family and my pain. I just wanted to be normal and be normal with him. But no matter how much I tried to pretend I couldn't ignore this. It didn't let me, it wanted to be seen. 

I finally decided to go to a doctor. Settling in another country was exhausting, you always need to fill in a lot of paperwork to do anything. It’s like starting kindergarten all over again. I told the doctor everything about my childhood and how I felt different. While I was telling him I felt anger and guilt, Why me? Was it because I didn't play with dolls enough? He asked me:

 “What age?” and I couldn't answer. When this feeling came and took over my soul?
“I don't remember, I only know it felt worse when I reached puberty…” After that, it actually felt better when society started naming things “transgender” “gender dysphoria” “come out” and every other expression that made me understand that I wasn’t alone.  Does gender dysphoria make sense? How can you suffer from something you can’t pronounce? 

He continued asking me “When?” and I kept torturing myself with Why? Suddenly it felt like a therapy session like in the movies:

“Do your parents know? You think they will not accept you?”

 If I told them could I still be daddy’s little girl? I decided not to tell them because I didn't think they deserve this and I couldn't disappoint them. Do you know that feeling when you do something with care and perfection and someone comes and says you did it wrong as if they can do better?! That’s how I see it. They made me and now I want to change.

Lunga Izata

Obs: Please let me know if you are looking forward to the next part :)
If you enjoy reading it please leave your comment or send me your feedback to [email protected]

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