Personal trans healthcare crowdfunders are a relatively new thing in South Africa. International crowdfunders in the trans community take months and months to fund. Mosts US and UK Instagram siblings saving for top surgery take to printing t-shirts and selling them to the rest of the trans community on Instagram, and this too takes months and months. So believe me when I say, to have raised 90% of my worst case scenario goal (in terms of surgery cost) in just two and a half short weeks, is nothing short of miraculous.
What is so beautiful and heartwarming and profound about this outpouring of love and support from people is: (speaking as a white trans person in a place of privilege in a community that is over 90% people of colour)
- Most, if not all humxn beings, regardless of who we are, are so used to life being difficult and having to stoically, and stubbornly, rely on ourselves without ever asking for help of any kind, not just financial. Asking for help, in a world where support from others is an integral part of one’s emotional wellbeing, is one of the most difficult things we as humans struggle with, and because of our upbringing, asking for help is associated with feelings of extreme shame and guilt.
- Me as a minority group (trans) asking for support and being helped by other trans people, all in the same (gender-affirming surgery) boat, or working up to being in the same boat, or having been in the boat and now out of it, all of whom I only know from Instagram and Facebook, some of whom struggle financially, some of whom told me they would pay me when their disability cheque cleared, some of whom I’ve never even interacted with on social media. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The trans and queer community is THE STRONGEST in the “community” sense of the word. We will do ANYTHING for each other, and more often than not do, because we empathise with each others’ struggles and joys as intensely as if they were our own. The Instagram trans community has been my greatest source of support within the trans community, and I will love you brothers, sisters and siblings forever.
- The other miraculous thing is that 65% of this funding came from hetero cisgender and queer cisgender folx! (Let that sink in). And most of these were people I’ve met once, or are good social media friends, or social media social acquaintances; and some I don’t know at all. (Will that section of the white trans community in the back who say cisgender folx are always fucky just for being cis please take a damn seat). I’ve always maintained that allies are essential to the trans community, and you peeps more than proved me right, because even though I knew it, I now KNOW it. The incredible-ness of these donations from people outside of the trans community is this: while they can never know what it means to be trans, they are incredible enough, emotionally mature enough, “decent humxn being” enough to realise the importance of this step for me. I don’t have a word for this feeling. But, it feels like shock and surprise, first of all, but then as acceptance, being seen, being loved unconditionally. And how many of us humxns, and especially those of us in one or more minority grouping, could EVER have believed that was possible… Well, it is.
- In the age where there is so much to be said about how social media is making us less human, less sincere and psychologically ill, when I say “I love you” to people on social media I have never met, I mean it as much as when I say it to my blood family; and in most cases more. While the relationships on social media are virtual, the relationships formed with like-minded people are very, very real. Never forget this. Never underestimate this. I haven’t for a long time, and never will again.
I will be using the money raised to pay for surgery, which I did last week!!! and for the recovery period of 8 weeks following that, which will help HUGELY to keep my stress levels down about unemployment and the wolves at the door. So the money raised over the surgery and hospital fee will ensure that the operation is a success as I’ll be able to heal and recover without complications. I should get the actual date tomorrow and surgery will be in March/beginning of April.
I can’t even begin to tell you, but I will write a blog post about it before surgery, about how just the knowledge that this is happening has already improved my mental health and how it has made me realise more than I ever knew how my whole life has been about lying to myself that I am trans, just to spare myself the pain. The magnitude of that pain is close to being alleviated, and after the surgery it will (simply) be about dealing with lesser, but manageable aspects of the pain that being trans in this world causes. So, thank you, thank you. You peeps are LITERALLY saving me and improving the quality of my life.
So while I take my selfcare hiatus to recover from the mental and physical exhaustion of the last year and the struggle that it has been to get here, I will hold onto these feelings, this gratitude, this unconditional love, and I hope you have some idea of how much that means.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. While I have ALL these words above, I know that the enormity of this outpouring of unconditional love will only hit me on the morning of the surgery, and only really fully once I’m lying flat (excuse the pun) in bed afterwards. So, so grateful, blessed. Love you all.
For more info on surgery at Helen Joseph. https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/all-transgender-surgeries-helen-joseph-johannesburg-list-prices/