Shifting Perceptions: Part 2 – Kat

Shifting Perceptions continues. Kat’s resilience is impeccable and admirable.

Reasons why I wanted to do these mini-series stories, is because we’re not educated enough on Transgender issues and sensitivity.

Small things such as pronouns and asking sensitive questions to someone who is going through their transition. We need to watch ourselves. Even if you’re in the LGBTQI+ community.

We need to watch how folks in the community are quick to silence the “T” or “Q”. The passive transphobia almost slipping past our own tounges and not being aware of their presence in our spaces. Even if you are aware, how are we making sure that we’re not being violent in our mannerism and conduct?

Some people in the LGBTQI+ community still perpetuate cisheteropatriarchy. How will we disrupt the normative views? Especially in the creative industry?

You might know Kat as “Katboymeetsgirl” – the name says it all. Kat has been in her transition and has been fully aware of her sexuality and gender identity from a very young age.

Katboymeetsgirl

I got to spend some time with her in the past weekend, and I’m very grateful for that because it has allowed me to shape this piece with a better understanding.

Kat is a LISOF student based in Pretoria. Besides studying, she’s a self-taught make-up artist and stylist.

I caught up with her for a few questions and got to kiki with the good sis.

1. I know asked this question before. But I need to know where your headspace is with our current climate – what’s your view on the LGBTIQ+ community in South Africa?

What I think of our community is… that there’s not a lot of unity, especially being a transgender amongst gay men, they will make you feel like you’re not woman enough to be a woman. There’s a lack of understanding of each others’ dynamics as a whole community. I’ve never been entirely accepted by a lot of gay, transgender, and lesbians because of the person I am.

I’m not my medical situation, I’m a woman first and most people in our community don’t get that. Not everyone has to be an activist to be validated as a “South African Transgender woman”. I believe that I don’t have to voice out my issues and what I think needs to change, selfish people are the happiest and that’s me. I’m very selfish with my happiness. The LGBTIQ stands by itself and will always be a strong community because of what it stands for, but there should be more unity within the community. Then our rainbow will make sense.

Katboymeetsgirl

 

2. A lot of people don’t understand the transition. Is there any advice you would give to someone who is going through their own transition?

My advice is: start now rather than later ’cause the process in South Africa takes forever, therefore you’ll need all the time in the world.

Don’t be afraid to live the life you want to live, transitioning is not only about the way you look, there’s more to transitioning than just looking like a woman. Transitioning is not easy but it can be done. You have to be patient and make sure you make yourself happy before anything else. But first, the transition starts with knowing what you want.

3. Education around Transgender issues needs to be prioritised, do you think there are enough programs in SA that aim to do that?

I don’t think there are enough programmes but there are people doing the education, which is a good start. The process takes time. Especially in our country, which frustrates me but I believe that I’m enough information, or a good example rather, for the next person who is curious and wants to understand what it means being transgender. I believe that I’m capable of making the slightest difference by just being open about being a transgender woman and that’s the power I think we have.

Follow Kat on Instagram: @katboymeetsgirl

Side note, you can listen to Kat’s top 3 favourite songs:

  1. Brenda Fassie – Bad Girl
  2. Iamddb – Shade
  3. KAYTRANADA – You’re the one.

With that said, do leave a comment below or tweet me and let’s talk about how we can be better at being a community and having unity. Understanding that there are dynamics and we should be decolonising our own community from these constructs.

3 thoughts on “Shifting Perceptions: Part 2 – Kat

  1. Trans identities are mystified behind a complex progressive language that further alienates lay communities, e.g. Cisheteropatriarchy. The language we use to describe ourselves in the African context is an abstraction, if not a cop-out, from the west. This makes us seem a lot more exotic, foreign or that much different from communities we are trying to reach for acceptance. In truth, trans people have existed in our societies from time immemorial — we are not a novelty, just a lot more visible in our agency. We need to be to simplify the language in how we communicate our identities so that it is not only accessible to the lay person, but also that everyone feels included in our plight for acceptance.

    Secondly, the LGBTI “agenda” has led to a further misunderstanding of gender identity issues. The historical oppression and side-lining of trans and intersex communities within the community is a fact, and the sad truth is that the acronym has become synonymous with sexuality, not gender. The distinction within our communities in understanding the difference between gender and sexuality will help us in the fight for equal human rights for everyone. Gay privilege does exist within the movement, and it is a conversation that needs to be had.

    We also need to depathologize trans identities. Transitioning is not about the way you look, but access to medical care that could alleviate anxieties around the damaging interplay of self-image and the societal gaze. But there also needs to be an understanding that not every trans-identifying person wants to, or necessarily needs to medically transition. We come in a spectrum. Gender is a spectrum, not binary.

    There are issues around the politics of passing that are problematic in the trans narrative, especially in the way trans stories are covered in the media. Showing the diversity of trans bodies and experiences while avoiding pushing one “digestible image” of trans persons helps our movement in getting people to understand our transgender community in its diversity. It is the media’s prerogative to be true to trans stories, and that includes allowing trans people to speak for themselves. (Kudos to “Lelo What’s Good”!)

    P.S. Visibility is a personal choice. Not every trans-identifying woman has to be an “activist,” and not every trans person owes anyone an explanation about their bodies or anything really.

    Thabiso (She/her/hers)

    1. Thank you so much for being engaging in this post, Thabiso. I agree with you on everything that you said. I’d like to highlight a few things about what you said regarding simplifying language when describing or unpacking the spectrum of sexuality. Unfortunately, not everyone understands terms such as “non-binary” or “heteronormative” – that’s just an information gap and a barrier both ends need to meet at. In saying so, “acceptance” is such a tough term to use. Sometimes we just to be “be”… to “be” acknowledged and respected. Whether someone accepts you for who you are or not should actually be none of our concern. It just comes down to boundaries.

      The fight we’re looking at right now is definitely within the gay community. That part is very much toxic and catty. It still perpetuates the “straight acting” normative view society has brainwashed people to be and look like, and act like. Within the community, gay folks do have some level of privilege. Do gay men accept it? That’s an entire conversation we should have soon.

      Thank you very much for reading and giving feedback on your standpoint. It’s refreshing.

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