By Bustop TV
Assigned male at birth, Bulawayo-born transgender woman Stewie Le Savage, aged 25, laments the large amount of money needed to complete the gender confirmation process (GCP) she seeks.
“I wish to transition, but due to the costs and the circumstances in Zimbabwe, it makes it hard for me to even dream about it,” she said.
The gender confirmation (or transition) process differs for every trans person and sometimes involves changing legal documents, physical alterations, and surgeries. Gender affirmation (or confirmation) surgeries, sometimes called sex reassignment surgeries, are the procedures by which some transgender people’s sexual characteristics (physical appearances and/or functions) are altered to more closely align with sexual characteristics commonly associated with their gender identities.
The genitoplasty Stewie seeks is typically performed by a multispecialty team of plastic surgeons. Stewie doubts such surgeries will ever be easily accessible in Zimbabwe.
Speaking to Bustop TV she said medical facilities restrict the way trans people can live in Zimbabwe. She implored responsible authorities to improve the country’s health facilities and create a safe and friendly environment for trans persons.
“We need to have specific facilities and institutions that offer gender affirming services,” she said. “We also want our country’s home affairs to consider an easy access to change gender markers on identification documents.”
Echoing these sentiments is Wandile Dhliwayo, a transwoman and finance officer with Trans Research Advocacy and Training (TREAT).
She told Bustop TV that transitioning in Zimbabwe can be a difficult an expensive process and that financial constrains have played a large part in blocking her from fully transitioning.
“The medical costs are too high. Also, the resources that are needed for one to transition are not even available, making transitioning very hard,” she said. “Some of our trans members are scared to even transition socially, leading them to drop out of school, get fired, etc.”
Trevor Ncube, who also works for TREAT, said transitioning in Zimbabwe is not an easy or overnight decision and often requires international travel to undergo medical processes.
Transgender persons will again have to rely on black market for medication to transition, therefore posing a threat to their health and lives.
Gender reassignment surgeries are expensive globally with costs ranging from US$30 000 to US$50 000.
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