And this is Micaelan.
Micaelan who is 39, who is non-binary, who is transgender, no specific order, just a tedious journey.
Now cut the poetry.
Micaelan is from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. They grew up on Rhodes University campus, for their father was a warden there. Their family subscribed to roman catholicism and was very observant. Such religious morals were layered by the general conservatism of one of the oldest varsities of South Africa.
« I’m glad none of my children turned out gay, I’d have disowned them. »
Casual comments at dinner time. According to Micaelan’s family morals, homosexuality is a sin.
So for female assigned, masculine identifying, tomboy looking Micaelan, growing up was a steady crisis of faith, a constant feeling of danger. Were they a lesbian? Were they going to hell?
About the age of 25, Micaelan discovered they had fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that creates fatigue as well as constant pain in muscles, bones and joints. Micaelan’s horizons, that were already warped by a strict upbringing, immediately shrank.
Micaelan felt punished for being queer. Punished by life. Punished by God.
Then Micaelan engaged on a path to become less sinful. They, moved back to Grahamstown, moved in with their boyfriend, got a job on campus as a computer science lecturer, had three children. In a nutshell, and as Micaelan likes to put it, they became a good christian cisgender mother.
And this more conforming life came with a lot of traumatic experiences.
Being with their boyfriend, who later on became a husband, was the ultimate story of discontentment. Although they were partners and allies, they never really were emotionally connected. Micaelan, who grew up being fed with gendered stereotypes, still fed the constant hope of breaking into their husband´s shell, giving access to an eternal and mutual love.
Being pregnant, making Micaelan an official woman and mother in the eye of society, was by far the most dysphoric experience they ever had to go through. Micaelan felt alienated to their own body, scared by a life growing inside of their belly, harassed by people’s reminders that they were a woman. A woman Micaelan kept trying to be.
Since being a good wife, a good mother, a good teacher couldn’t bring Micaelan fulfillment, but rather the opposite, an utter sense of discomfort, they had to find a getaway, a way to explore their gender and sexuality. A getaway that happened to be an online gateway. On social media, Micaelan linked with gender-fluid and transgender groups. It was a prime tool to finally put words and labels on who they were, on how they had always felt.
Back then, they got to realise how detrimental their entire life story had been to their identity. Micaelan’s mind was prejudiced. Transgender people were characters of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Chicks with dicks.
How could Micaelan be both transphobic and transgender?
So it took some time, some time to come to terms with their being. Micaelan has always leaned toward a more masculine expression of their gender. Yet, because of how toxic masculinity is, they did not identify as male. And Micaelan came out as non-binary.
Micaelan looked back at their entire love life and figured that they had mostly dated queer male-identifying individuals. Then Micaelan came out as pansexual.
But because people always have it hard to understand such labels, today, Micaelan makes it simple and introduces themself as a transgender gay man.
However, as simple as you might put these things, being transgender, being non-binary, never makes things easy.
Last year, when the Feesmustfall movement had students protesting all over the country, Micaelan paid a high price for their identity. In the old white cisgender straight male-dominated Rhodes University, especially in the computer science department where Micaelan was working, trouble was not hard to find.
An incident who involved a panicked lecturer who pepper-sprayed students got Micaelan into trouble. Micaelan merely asked on social media who was the lecturer and Rhodes university charged Micaelan for incitement to violence.
On top of a clear attempt to censor these events, Rhodes took the opportunity to get rid of its vocal staff. Micaelan, who is openly transgender, who was an active member of the student LGBTI group and the Gender Action Commitee, had become a target.
So Michaelan resigned, left Rhodes, left Grahamstown, moved to Cape Town, with their family.
And this new life, freshly started, carries with itself a whole lot of challenges. Michaelan still lives with their husband, but they are separate. They don’t do it for the kids. Although they kind of do. If Micaelan applied for divorce, they would engage in a battle for child custody. And as transgender and non-binary, Michaelan has no doubt they would lose their family.
And this is Micaelan.
Because life goes on, nothing can be a tragedy. At least, nothing should be.
But at least now you know. You know when to cut the poetry.
back to project