BREAKING DOWN SOGIE  – PART 2: Body Politics

For many trans and gender diverse persons, we are told that who we are is a depravity and the road we embark on is a transgression. Who are we? Humans who happen to be trans or gender diverse. What are we doing? Affirming ourselves. It is imperative that we stress that self-affirmation is subjective. Body politics and the inclusion thereof is highly contested and is built on cisnormative roots, with little to no room for diversity. Effectively deeming the decentralisation of cisnormative standards, beginning and ending with body parts. It is a misconstrued expectation of human nature. 

 

As trans and gender diverse persons, we usually affirm our bodies and identities through the clothes we wear before affirming our identities medically, if we so choose. However, the unequal access to gender-affirming health cannot be disregarded as it plays an integral role in the heightened incongruency between the mind and the body as trans and gender diverse bodies. Thus, commonly known as gender dysphoria in the contemporary world. The waking up and staring at the mirror experience may not be as pleasant for some trans and gender diverse persons. Distress, discomfort, uncertainty and apprehensive are more befitting words to verbalise the experience. What exacerbates one’s anxiety at that moment is knowing the world is in stark contrast with your utopia. 

 

Advocating for accessible gender-affirming healthcare (GAHC) at adolescent stage assists the development of the body in the preferred manner as opposed to receiving the opportunity after puberty. Gender-affirming health care is one of many measures to align identities medically and subsequently reduces the consistent dysphoria with one’s physical features. Affirming healthcare masculinises or feminises your body and may include surgery depending on how you affirm yourself.  The socio – economic status in the Republic of South Africa is split between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. The need to buy food and feed your family is greater than the need for gender-affirming healthcare for some.  Our health care system needs significant attention and an incredible transformation. We can no longer have waiting lists of 25 years for GAHC, unsensitised gynaecologists, unsensitised healthcare providers, colonialist Medical Aids and un-inclusive language. 

The huge misconception society has, is the need for the perfect trans and gender diverse body. There is no benchmark for the perfect trans body.  A trans masculine person may present with or without breasts or an enlarged chest.  A trans feminine person may appear with a beard, regardless, they are who they say they are. Therefore, the fixation by society over body parts where people with penises are expected to dress and behaviour in a certain way, as well as people with vaginas who have set expectations too. Its counter -revolutionary!

 

Greyson Vanguard Thela

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