A PanAfricanist Queer Womanist Collective
My name is Priscilla. I grew up in a small town called Elliotdale. In Elliotdale people lived off farming and the cultivation of livestock. Everybody had their own way of making sure that they got the best mielies, pumpkins, peas, onions and other vegetables. The people there would prepare samp (isingqusho) and share it amongst themselves.
I was the kind of child who was loved by everyone in the community because of my beauty and respectfulness. It made me feel special to be young and so loved .It got me connected with many people. It gave me safety and made me feel protected and very proud of whom I am. Another thing that impressed them about me was my voice. I used to sing like Brenda Fassie. I sounded exactly like her. Brenda was so popular during the 80s and she received so many great awards. She was the symbol of a woman! That was the kind of music I was listening to.
As I grew up I noticed that I was a girl. I started to feel uncomfortable with my private parts and them being seen by other boys. I urinated privately. They wanted me to reveal myself in order for them to see if I was a girl or a boy. They wondered to themselves why I wore pants while the other girls wore school skirts. When I was at me home I wore “girly” clothes. There were also teachers who wondered about my sexuality. They did it in a professional way and believed me when I told them that I was a girl.
I had a problem with one of the new teachers at our school.
He tried to force me to play soccer but I refused. He asked if I was a boy and I responded, “Yes, not a soccer one”. He became very angry with me. He could not understand. Luckily for me, another teacher who loved me very much said to him, “Leave her alone, she is not the soccer type. You’d better take her to netball”.
That teacher made me feel like a natural woman. He treated me like a queen.
During my adulthood I experienced a lot of discrimination because my femininity was going away. I became masculine and even began to grow a beard. All I had left was a feminine voice and walk. I think it was at that stage that I identified my gender and sexuality. People treat you as someone who doesn’t have feelings and they disrespect you for whom and what you are. They pass bad remarks not even worrying that you might hear them. They say nasty things that break your heart. They lower your dignity to the ground level. I need to be treated with respect.
As a transgender woman I belong to the LGBTIQIA community. It is very difficult for me as a black trans* woman when I am in love with a man. The man I love will be ill-treated by others. He will be the talk of the town. His manhood will be doubted. They will wonder if he is a real man when it comes to circumcision. He will be taken for a fool in a relationship that cannot bear children.
Now I’m dating straight guys who do not want it to be known that they are dating a transgender woman. I become the victim of the one-night-stands of different men who don’t regard me as their lover. I often hear heterosexual people misunderstanding my sexual choices. I hear them say that we have chosen to be the way we are. I strongly disagree with that. I did not choose to be gay. If I was given the choice, I would have chosen to be born female. God made me gay. There are those who believe that on his Judgment day I will go to hell, telling me I won’t make it into the Kingdom of heaven. Unfortunately for them, God knows why he created me. He will judge will judge those who do not appreciate His creation. The judgment is for God, not for human beings.
My sexuality puts me at risk.
There is so much hate crime going on out there. We hear a lot of traumatic stories about lesbians being raped and it being called “corrective rape”. Gays are killed because of hate and ignorance. How can I find love in a sick society such as this one? I am afraid to kiss my boyfriend in public because I might get stoned by passersby or people around. I am in a secret relationship. If I am invited to a party and asked to bring my partner it is tough of me. If the party is for gays, then it is okay for me to take my partner. Otherwise, we arrive alone and pretend we don’t know each other.
I fell into sex work because of my poor background. There are so many things in the industry that happen. You get a client offering to marry you, some to promise you give you everything you want and even shelter if you need it. What I enjoy the most about it is that I work for myself. I don’t go into work if I don’t feel like it. It is the fastest way to get money without waiting for month-end. Besides the frustration about my sexual preferences I often find myself digging into my pockets for affectionate love. I have a fear of violence. There are so many different types of violence too like: sexual harassment, being beaten up, pepper sprayed, trafficked or strip searched. I have only every experienced being robbed, beaten up and arrested.
This job is my choice. I do this job because I love it!
Thank you to SWEAT for organizing this piece.