|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
“Standing for what you believe in is the only way to make people know who you are, the way you present your self is the way the people and the community around you will treat you” this is according to Prisca Mogapi who is popularly known as Skipper.
Prisca Mogapi says people treat him as a man and have no doubt in his manhood, “at work my colleagues refer to me as Mr. Mogapi”, he notes. Mogapi is one of the Trans- men who are out and proud about it, advocating for the rights of the LGBTI community but the Trans movement in Botswana remains closest to his heart.
Skipper was born and bread in Gabane village thirty five kilometers from the capital city of Botswana. He’s the third child of the family, with two older brothers and one younger sister, raised by a single mother but spent most of his time growing up with his grandmother.
His family treated him as a girl growing up, because they had a good reason to celebrate having a baby girl in the family but as the years went on he somewhat became “tomboyish”, but that didn’t drive his mother to the top of the moon, she would yelled at him for playing soccer and taking a joyride with his toy cars.
However Mogapi says starting school became problematic as he was expected to wear dresses to school “I hated it” he explains, he had to rush back home after school to change into shorts.
“I never dreamed of telling anyone close to me, but the media divulged me as they gate crashed a party I threw with my partner”, Skipper reiterated.
The news paper headline read “homosexual party in Mmopane”, and printed his partner’s names in bold letters with their mobile numbers, “coming out of the closet is not a piece of cake. When my family particularly my mother saw the news paper they didn’t want anything to do with me for a long time, it was not easy I was even scared to go to the shops”, said Mogapi.
Since then “I started speaking about LGBTI issues, I felt that there was a need for a voice, otherwise the media would continue to mislead and write news items that re-enforced stereotypes”, added Mogapi.
Everyone at school labeled him lesbian even though he was not out yet, “that didn’t bother me as it was a stepping stone” he says. He didn’t have a clue how to tell his family that he was different to other girls in his immediate family. Mogapi says one of the challenges he still faces is that people still refer to him as a she or by his childhood name which is “Prisca”.
He identifies as a man, and says gender identity does not define his sexual orientation “my gender does not define who I have sex with, so I would say I am attracted to women so that makes me heterosexual.”
Going through the process of transition
He has done only half the transition process that is the top and he would like to go further but due to financial constraints, he can’t. Options vary from individual to individual one may choose to do the whole process whiles others would opt for the top, the costs also vary according to what you want do starting testosterone costs 2000 Pula’s for the test without medical aid and you have to pay 150 Pula’s for the injection. The top surgery is 26000 Pula’s and medical aid doesn’t cover it.
In 2007 Mogabi saw the need for a trans-movement which started as a support group called Rainbow Identity. The movement is growing fast but the group is not registered yet. The group has an office in Gaborone the membership has grown to 30 transgender persons.