“When I visited my doctor for my initial check-up in December 2017, it sort of scared me a bit. My doctor told me that my hormones were identical to those of a biological female of my age.”
By Michael Gwarisa
In Zimbabwe, a man who claims to possess hormones and a penchant for feminine things is labelled gay and an outcast. Owing to massive Christian and cultural beliefs, the issue is deemed taboo and many a times, individuals who come out as either gay, lesbian trans-men or trans-woman are segregated and discriminated against and or disowned by families.
For Aubrey Alissandra Chacha, known as Bree, a transwoman who commenced her hormonal transition from being a man into a full woman in March of 2018 says she has been a victim of massive discrimination at the hands of society, some family members and colleagues. She however says life for her is probably better now compared to the days when she tried to live a false life as a male.
“I also grew up in an environment where I would be told to behave like a man but I could to change because this is me. Even when I when I visited the doctor, he told me that the way you are, your hormones even the inside, its identical to a biological female of your age.
“This was before I had even commenced the transition. So this helped to explain and answer some questions I had grew up with,” said Aubrey.
Aubrey takes natural hormonal supplements and a natural hormonal diet since she says it is very expensive to travel to South Africa or Botswana every month for medical hormonal shots and seeking hormonal medications in Zimbabwe is currently illegal.
“I am currently on a Soya diet, you find that a Soya diet actually increases a woman’s Estrogen and as my Estrogen is increasing, I am now going on female puberty.
“My breasts are real, they started growing last year. I started off wearing male clothes but people would be shocked at seeing the size of my breast and the beauty of it is that Soya diet also prevents women from breast cancer.”
Estrogens are hormones that are important for sexual and reproductive development, mainly in women. They are also referred to as female sex hormones. The term “estrogen” refers to all of the chemically similar hormones in this group,
She added that full transition normally takes three years just like puberty but in her case it is sort of fast tracked and she can already pass as a women in any hormonal check up or test.
Aubrey however bemoaned the lack of access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services for transgender individuals but however applauded the ministry of health and child care (MoHCC) and donor agencies such the Global Fund, PEPFAR and others for acknowledging and supporting the transgender and gay community in Zimbabwe.
“I grew up with a male organ just like any other man but i felt like a heterosexual female. Everything that i did and the way i would relate to issues was female. Now I am awaiting to go through what we call a sexual reassignment surgery because i have a heterosexual female’s mindset.”
Aubrey started an organic skin care line in Zimbabwe last year in December and she says she is currently focusing on growing her business and other goals while relationships can wait on the sidelines for the meantime.
“I started an organic skin care line last year in December, it is a lot of work and a passion project. I am also discovering myself more as woman and i have so many things to learn the afterwards, the right guy comes and we can talk of a relationship.”
She says her transformation process is being funded mainly by her business and other personal savings. She however said the stigma from communities is still high and even in health centers owing to social norms.
“Very few know about transgender people and the only SHRH services we can get are probably if i get an STI or an HIV test. Its even difficult to go for a counseling session.
“The health sector is still trying to grasp how we ended up like this and there is still a lot that still needs to be done,” Aubrey said.