By Anita Dangazele
Cwenga Titi, who was born male but has lived as a girl since the age of four, hopes to go down in history as the first transgender woman to undertake a traditional rite of passage into manhood (ulwaluko in IsiXhosa).
Eighteen-year-old Titi, from Qonce (formerly King Williamstown), will be going to initiation school later this month after completing her grade 11 exams at Thembalethu High school.
Titi says she felt the need to embark on the journey due to social standards and in order to be respected as a man.
“As much as I am living as a trans woman, I understand that I was born a male and in our society, one cannot be respected as a man if they haven’t gone through this process,” says Titi.
Titi will be spending at least four weeks at initiation school where she will be taught and given wisdom on how a Xhosa man should carry himself in society.
Asked why she felt the need to undertake this journey into manhood when she has been living freely as a trans woman for so long, Titi says it’s important for her to live freely.
She said she also values tradition and culture.
“I don’t want to miss out on this important aspect of culture. It’s important for me to be respected by my peers as someone who follows and honours tradition irrespective of my sexuality,” says
The teen says she realised she was different from other boys as early as the age of four when she would ditch toy cars for dolls.
“I am a self-taught makeup artist, and have always loved dressing up and playing with barbie dolls,” recalls Titi.
Titi says she’s not oblivious to the fact that there may be some backlash from those who are intolerant amongst her straight peers in the bush.
“I understand that not everyone is going to be happy with me going to the mountain, but I’m trying to create a culture where members of the LGBTQI+ community aren’t excluded in our culture,” she explains.
Mbulelo Xinana, who is the founder of Sicebise Social Inclusion+ in Nelson Mandela Bay who is the founder of said he couldn’t comment much on Titi as the organisation didn’t have details of her case.
He told Scrolla.Africa that a transgender is a person whose gender-identity is not aligned with their biological sex or sex at birth.
“There is generally a wrong misperception that the transgender community is violating cultural and traditional standards and they can’t be part of the society. This is why it’s important to constantly educate people about Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity ,”Xinana added.
Titi has even organised a celebration, inviting those who’d like to celebrate this milestone with her to her homecoming celebration which will take place in her ancestral home in Makhanda next month.
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