How transitioning saved Mahlatse Nkuna.
I have two birthdays. The day my mother gave birth to her and the day I gave birth to myself.
My transgender rebirth day is November 15 2017; this is the day I saw a doctor about starting hormone replacement therapy and left with a prescription to start my medical transition journey. That’s how women like us stop our testosterone poisoning.
Before then, I had been fiddling with oestrogen and testosterone blockers since August. I didn’t want to convince anyone I was a woman. I had a black gay man for a therapist earlier that year. I told him I wanted to transition — assuming as a fellow queer person he would be supportive — and he discouraged me.
Gatekeeping from medical professionals is the reason I found a way to get hormones without a prescription and started taking them based on what I had read online. But I got very sick; my skin broke out and I was nauseous for weeks.
Going through the medical system is not only daunting because of the gatekeeping, it is also time-consuming and expensive. Your general practitioner is supposed to refer you to a gender therapist and that will lead to an endocrinologist who will give you hormones. That is a lot of specialist consultation fees. I’m a black trans woman from Soweto — I don’t have money to waste.
When friends of mine found out I had gone rogue, they funded my first consultation with a great doctor in Bryanston. Even though I regret taking chances with my life through self-medication, I got to skip a lot of unnecessary steps when I finally saw her. I was already on oestrogen so she added progesterone and told me to stop using the testosterone blocker that made me sick. I have been thriving ever since.
Transitioning saved me.
I had no interest in being a man and would’ve definitely taken my own life had I not been treated. I have reached a point where I am able to love my body. Dysphoria is not a big part of my life anymore. However, I am not done medically transitioning. I would like sex reassignment surgery.
The procedure costs thousands of dollars in Thailand and India, possibly more in the US and the UK. With all this money on the line, I have given it a lot of thought. I have been doing research for many years. I know that I will be happier.