‘My first memory of feeling like a boy was when I was seven years old …’
Transgender activist Landa Mabenge recently spoke to book podcasters The Cheeky Natives about his groundbreaking and brutally honest memoir, Becoming Him: A Trans Memoir of Triumph.
When Mabenge was born in 1981, he entered the world trapped in a girl’s body. His memoir captures in mesmerising detail his transition from female to male, as well as the abuse and trauma he suffered at the hands of certain family members.
In this intimate, in-depth interview, Mabenge shares the most painful and triumphant moments of his life.
‘I’m thirty-eight now, I’ve never hugged my mother, I’ve never kissed her, I’ve never held her hand—save for when she was beating me. With her it was simple, open and shut. But with the father, he had these multiple faces, these personalities … and so, it was easier for me to make sense of the mother than the father, because with him I never knew where I stood.’
Mabenge explains why he had to write this book. ‘My experiences are unique to me but these experiences are common among a lot of people, especially black people. I felt that there needed to be a narrative that speaks to the traumas that we go through, which might or might not have anything to do with gender or sexuality, but which taint black communities and black families a lot.’
On writing about familial abuse, he says: ‘In weaving this tapestry of my life, it’s a very big part of my life and it’s a part that has come to show me that I was able to make it. I had that resolve to keep going, and as a child you never really understand that you are strong enough until being strong is the only choice you have.
‘I’ve had so many people connect with those parts of my story and have then been able to go and seek help for themselves.’
On the title of his book, he says: ‘It was necessary for me to have ‘trans’ in there, because for me as a transgender man who is out and proud, who is able to live a full life in spaces where others cannot, I had to put it out there for whoever needed to connect with it.’
Read the article here and listen to the podcast: