I am Velani, aged 27 years old and working in the NGO sector for 3 years now. As young as being 8 years old, I knew that I was born in the wrong body. Though being biologically a boy, I always felt attracted by boys and friendlier with girls. My parents even inquired why I did not use to play ‘masculine’ games like football but instead ‘feminine’ games like dolls. It is only at the age of 16 that, fortunately, without having to do my ‘coming out’, my mother started to realize my gender identity, while my brother always knew my gender identity since I entrusted him. My father never raises this topic with me, and my grandparents always openly make homophobic comments. My neighbour, with whom I am close, was very supportive at that challenging time of my teenage years.
Since then, I started to accept myself and consequently had greater confidence. I stopped cutting my hair and created a self-medicated hormonal treatment, which was a bad idea! It is only at the age of 18 that I started to follow family planning sessions. As a transperson, I recommend all those undergoing hormonal transition to ensure they are followed by an endocrinologist as not all hormones work the same way for all trans people.
As a transperson, I recommend all those undergoing hormonal transition to ensure they are followed by an endocrinologist as not all hormones work the same way for all trans people.
Many trans people face challenges in life due to non-recognition by the Mauritian State and are therefore, deprived of many rights; either legal, constitutional, and social. For administrative matters, trans people do not have the freedom to be identified as a third gender; and while using public washrooms, trans people are often kicked out by security guards.
As trans people, we lack the legal support to change our gender marker from Mr. to Mrs. or vice-versa; gender reassignment is not available in Mauritius and breast implants which are possible are not affordable. We also feel stigmatised and discriminated because of our identity. Employers refuse our job applications despite being qualified and skilful.
As a result of these challenges, trans people enter a vicious cycle, whereby we often earn our living through sex work. Societal attitudes towards us leave many with low self-esteem and self-confidence, the feeling of depression and suicidal behaviours. Trans people still face persecutions, mockeries, hate speeches and even violence. Often, the police do not report our complaints, and many times they verbally, if not physically, abuse us.
Yet, there seems to be an improvement over the past five years. Trans people are obtaining move visibility internationally, through the media, at national level, and through pride marches.
My message to the Mauritian State would be to recognise trans people as equally as other human being. It is essential for us that the Government listen to our queries and social realities; only then will they address our demands. Also, legal recognition by the State will lead to a social change in people’s mindsets; a world where there are tolerance and acceptance for everyone regardless of our differences.
My message to the parents of trans people would be to be supportive of their children. We never asked to be born in a wrong body, and transidentity is neither an illness nor a sin. I am immensely grateful to my mother for being there for me whenever I needed and accepting me when she knew my real identity. Without her support, I would not be where I am today and standing on my two feet; instead, I would have lived a life in secrecy, fear, and rejection.
My message to the parents of trans people would be to be supportive of their children. We never asked to be born in a wrong body, and transidentity is neither an illness nor a sin.
For other trans people, my message would be to never give up on life despite all the difficulties we might face. Perseverance is my motto. Do not let others belittle you, knowing your worth is all that matters. Do know that you are not alone; there are organizations which you can turn yourself to for support. Also, empower yourself so that you can stand on your feet and lead the change for a better inclusive world! As a trans person, I want to live my life like everyone else since I have only one! And I want to feel accepted by others the way I carry myself as a trans person.