Benjamin* is a community health worker, an activist and a health service provider. Physically Benjamin is a woman who identifies himself as a transgender man. Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were born with. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.
Benjamin (who requested that his real identity be concealed to protect him from society’s prejudices) invited new Era Weekend to observe his daily transformation process.
It is a process that is intimate, which often takes place in the confines of his bedroom. However, Benjamin is hoping that by sharing these intimate moments the public would able to get a better understand of the personal struggles he undergoes. “The society has made people believe that you have to hate your body as a trans-person and that is not the case for me,” says Benjamin, who narrates that his journey has been difficult and at one point disconnected him from his family.
The disconnection happened when he started transitioning during which time he did not involve his family. This made it difficult to explain and educate them on what exactly being transgender meant.
There are transgender people who strive to bring their bodies more into alignment with their gender identity. Some use hormone therapy while others undergo surgeries. For Benjamin such steps are too drastic and not something he would undertake at this point in his life. He has previously bound his breast tissue to have a more masculine appearance.
Yet, even then he is constantly asking himself whether he is binding himself because that is what he really wants or he is binding his breasts just so that he can fit in with the society’s narrative of masculinity. “It came to a point where I only bind when I need to,” he says adding that he considers himself a man who can put on a dress and not feel any less manly.