After the Miss Universe pageant recently changed its rules to allow trans women to enter, Botswana’s trans people are hoping they might be in a stronger situation to change things in their country.
Today Tshepo Kgositau a self-identifying trans woman has appeared on local radio stations talking about the breakthrough at Miss Universe and how it could change things as far as the local branch of the pageant is concerned.
Tshepo, who has the height and the body to be a model, faces the same challenge as the rest of Botswana’s trans community, which is that the state issued identity document that she has still reflects her birth sex, even though this may have changed.
Tshepo said, “Personally as a trans woman who has been watching Miss Universe from 1995 when it was won by Miss USA Chelsea Smith, this great opportunity means I have a window of opportunity to realize a dream that for years has been pipe dream I thought was far fetched.”
Botswana is a conservative country where issues such as sex and sexuality are not generally discussed. Nevertheless many in the trans community are now wondering whether the inclusion of trans women in the international pageant gives them a reason to hope.
Tshepo said, “My hope is that this new move in international pageant and platforms will trickle down to us here in Botswana. Personally I am going to make sure that these statutes of Miss Universe Botswana are changed so they too are on par with international regulations”.
She added, “There is no choice about this. It must happen in Botswana because we are all women and as long as the title says Miss then I too am entitled to represent my country.”
Rainbow Identity the transgender and intersex organization said, “Absolutely it is good news, it’s another pernicious structural discrimination barrier taken down, and everybody irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation should be allowed to participate in every aspect of society.”
Tshepo said society has expectations of a Motswana child, which prescribes a gender for the child at birth. She explained how it is always a challenge for transgender people to fit in with the societal expectations.
She said, “While Batswana are better responsive to transgender issues than they are with issues of sexual orientation, the disheartening thing for me is that there is still a great inclination from society on transgender individuals to be hetero-normative upon completion of transitioning.”
She added, “However the degree of intensity of the response to transgender community is far better than of lesbians and gays are subjected to in this country this line becomes blurred where trans men and trans women are mistaken to be lesbians and gays.”
Tshepo concluded, “All trans women in Botswana, if you are confident that you are gorgeous lady, join me in making sure that we too are given chance to represent our country, our women, and the Tswana culture.”