The Sunday Mail
In 2013, Zimbabweans overwhelmingly voted to adopt a new Constitution that continued to protect the sanctity of marriage as the legal union between males and females, as recognised by our cultural heritage as Africans. However, that has not stopped the LGBTI lobby. Below, we publish the story of a Zimbabwean man who has transformed himself into a woman. It is noteworthy that NO evidence was provided to back up the claims. We invite readers to give us their feedback, using [email protected], on the claims made below . . .
Mtandazo Dube – Leisure Editor
A human rights imperative, science at work, a sign of the end of times, or outright insanity.
These are among the different arguments propounded by people around the world when American man Bruce Jenner recently unveiled himself to the world as a woman called Caitlyn.
Zimbabweans have shown they are not to be outdone. Well, at least one Zimbabwean.
Tatelicious, born Tatenda Zenzo Karigambe, has spent more than US$80 000 to transform himself into a woman.
Now legally a woman after registering as a female with the Registrar-General’s Office, Tatelicious caused a stir when she walked into The Sunday Mail offices last Wednesday for a scheduled interview.
Wearing designer high heels, winter stockings, denim miniskirt, chiffon blouse and Pierre Cardin coat, Tatelicious (who said the clothing was worth over £3 500, or US$5 540) said she was ready to die for her right to transform from male to female.
Asked how old she was, she said: “I usually don’t want to reveal my age – I’m a lady. As ladies we don’t reveal our age. I’m in my late 20s.”
She also refused to produce any documentary evidence to support her claims that a few years ago she was male.
“I was confirmed a boy at birth, but I just had a male body with a female mind,” said Karigambe, who says she completed the sex change in 2013 when the Registrar-General officially gave her documentation as a female.
The process of becoming a woman has involved doctors and lawyers.
Tatelicious is adamant that she is not gay, though she identifies with lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and intersexuals in the community more commonly referred to as LGBTI. She also dismisses claims that she is a sponsored science-culture project that many see as a direct attack on African value systems.
“I chose to liberate myself from the confines of society. I have spent more than US$80 000 on breast augmentation and vaginoplasty (male to female sex reassignment surgery). I invested in businesses and saved money – family, friends and other silent partners chipped in,” said Tatelicious, who added that the surgery was life-threatening as she was diabetic.
“I did not do this for money. Growing up, my mother (availed) everything for us; we went to trips as far as the UK, Italy and the US. I’m a chemical engineer, I do consultancy and I run my own organisation, Tatenda NGO, and my husband is rich. He is a neurosurgeon, he is Scottish.
“We have a lovely (adopted) daughter, Trish, who is four. We run businesses; we are into transport, mining etc. I didn’t do this for money, this is who I am.”
Having grown up in one of Harare’s tough ghettos, Budiriro, and living in a country whose laws only recognise two sexes and whose culture abhors sex changes, one wonders how Tatelicious became a transwoman.
“I’m a twin in a family of four. Since I was growing up I had that disconnection – my brain and my body: seeing a male organ on me but being feminine in everything since kindergarten. As I grew up people thought I would change, they thought I was acting like a girl because there were lots of girls at home, and that I would change as I (got older).
“When I was a teenager it became worse, I became my own enemy, I hated myself, ‘internal transphobia’. I would see other boys talking about girls and dating them and it would tear me apart because I wondered why I was not doing the same.
“I later on spoke to my mom and I said mom you know what, people are already calling me ngochani (gay), I was 12 or 13-years-old then. I wanted men to ask me out. Even on prom night I wore a dress.
“My mom said to me as long as you are my child I’m satisfied with whom you are. I find no wrongness in you. But she never came out in the open to tell me that I was either gay or a transgender,” said Tatelicious.
But the family did not accept these changes easily, and they tried their best to exorcise the “demon” in their deviant brother, nephew and son.
“Some people may say maybe because I was brought up by a single mother with an absentee father that is why I turned out this way – no. My single parent was both a mother and father to me. My uncles thought they could beat me up until I became a man but it was all in vain.
“It ended up as child abuse. Imagine, at one time I was forced to eat 40 raw eggs and slept in some bushy mountain. They said they would exorcise the female demon in me. Vakandiendesa kumapostori nekun’anga, if Magaya was around then maybe I would have been taken there as well and drowned in anointing oil. Ndaiyendeswa kwaWimbo, Nzira etc. People came up with all sorts of remedies and my mother would try them. And when they failed they would say aneshavi rechikadzi (she is possessed by a female spirit). After eating (the raw) eggs I almost died. I was resuscitated at Avenues Clinic. That is when my mother just accepted me the way I am.
“She and I both realised that each time they took me to these n’angas I actually got stronger in terms of being a female. My mother was troubled, it wasn’t easy for her to come to terms with it but there came a time when she had to accept me as I am.
“My mother was a treasurer of a certain church and she got chucked out of church because of me. She was told to ‘choose whether to stay with this Satanic child of yours or with the church’. She chose me.”
For that, Tatelicious does not go to church, but says she believes in God.
“My family became my backbone. I sought refuge in my mum and my sisters. My family says just speak of us in passing in your interviews. My sisters are married and have their lives – I prefer to talk just about myself and maybe my mother.
“My father is a doctor and he lives in Massachusetts, US and he gave me his blessings and lots of support when I went there for surgery.”
Tatelicious says at Eastridge Primary School in Harare, it was tough being different. But worse was to come in secondary school.
“I was expelled from secondary school when I was in Form Two at Nyahuni. I fell in love with the headboy and we were caught in a compromising position, I was expelled and was chased away from residence, and he had to write exams coming from the surrounding communities.
“I then went Glen View High 2 (in Harare), where I became the head boy there until I left to go to Watershed in Mazowe. When I finished A-Level that is when I realised that I wasn’t gay but a transwoman.
“When we say transgender, it is an umbrella term that covers many people in terms of gender identification. It is different when you say gay – gay is a man who likes other men but does not feel like he is a woman.
“I identify myself with women. I’m a wife, a mother, at work I’m a lady. I was always feminine,” she explained.
Tatelicious says she will fight for her kind, which is why she studies to develop herself.
“I studied at the Harare Institute of Technology but there was drama there so I left. I got a scholarship to Stellenbosch University (South Africa); finished my undergrad Chemical Engineering and I’m working on doing my masters now. I believe that I would never have performed to my capacity if I had remained a man. It was a game of thrones in my mind.
“I represent ‘key populations’, people living with HIV and Aids, commercial sex workers, transgender, intersex and sometimes the disabled people. It’s a small community but they should be catered for. All this time there has been no evidence. People have been asking: vamborikupi vanhu ava? I know of (other) Zimbabweans who are turning 40-something (who feel like me). I’m not the first one to go under the knife to change sex here in Zimbabwe. It has long been done and there are people who live like me while some died with their secrets.
“I want people like me to find peace from broken pieces. I want to educate my own country. I wanted to remove the stereotype kuti ngochani hadzina kudzidza. Let us evolve as Zimbabweans. Let us adapt to change. Back in the day albinos were killed. Matwins ayiurayiwa. Zvinhu zvinochinja. Vakadzi vaisa shanda now they rule – things change.
I’m tired of my story making headlines on CNN, why not in my home country? I’m not alone in this. Handidi kunzwirwa tsitsi kana kudiwa – I just want respect. I respect you with your wife at home so respect me as well. Let God that created me be the one to judge me. Our country only recognises two sexes, that is female and male. But there is a third one – intersex, where we find transgender, hermaphrodites. People think this is Western, American – but this is us – people who know me since I was young know that I grew up like this.
“The vernacular for people who are not heterosexuals is ngochani. I have a right to gender identity, although transgender is not in the Constitution. When Bruce Jenner, who is now Caitlyn Jenner, came out, people were like ‘thank God. I’m a proud to be Zimbabwean. Kwedu hakuna zvakadaro’. They didn’t know that they are many of us but they don’t want to come out because they will be judged. Sodom and Gomorrah and other scriptures will be quoted.
“If trees are not seen they are always strange. That is why transgender people have to come out so that they do not become strange. It’s about us being transparent. People are committing suicide because of this – because their communities won’t accept them.
“I lead the Gender Identity Revolution – Zimbabwe yakauya neChimurenga. I may not live to see transgender people sitting at a table with heterosexuals discussing issues but we will fight for it.
“If you want the whole history of Tatelicious go to Budiriro 2 – they knew me and still know me as Tete Tate.” Tatelicious says she takes hormone adjusting medication to suppress beard growth, but the voice gives away her past as a man. She will have to take these drugs for the rest of her life.
She feels her kind should stop leading reckless lives. “Transwomen are susceptible to diseases. For every two heterosexual women living with HIV and Aids there are six in the transgender community. We easily catch cancer and other opportunistic infections because of the reconstruction.”