Johannesburg – This time last year, transgender woman Snowy Mamba began her journey of “accessorising” her body with breasts.
The 29-year-old, who was born male, always believed she was in the wrong body, and so last year she took the bold step of hormone therapy to grow breasts, thin her voice and get rid of her facial hair.
While she decided to keep her male genitals, today the results of her fundamental decision are remarkable.
Her voice is not as deep as it used to be and she does not shave “as much” as she used to. However, Mamba says “nothing” brings her “more joy” than the 32B breasts which are currently growing on her chest. Her happiness is real.
“I wear cleavage-revealing clothes. I take pictures wearing a bikini… they are too beautiful,” she says.
The Star first published Snowy’s narrative on Women’s Day last year. It was a story then about how she was to embark on the journey to become the person she had always wanted to be.
But that was the physical. Snowy has, in fact, been living as a person who identifies as female since she was 14, but it was never easy “being herself”. Some in her community would discriminate against her in another way altogether, as if she were a gay man. Others thought she was a drag queen.
But once Snowy gained more information herself, she realised she identified instead as transgender. Hers was not a challenge of sexual orientation. A year later, she has officially changed her name from Mzwandile to Snowy and has an ID book that bears that new name.
It’s been a tough 12 months. The hormone pills Snowy takes cost between R600 and R800 for a month’s supply, depending on the dosage. And, at least for the first two months, the side effects were unpleasant.
Right now, she has no intention of doing gender reassignment surgery.
“I’m okay with my body having a penis. I love the combination.”
The medication will have to continue for the rest of her life.
It’s the effective activism that comes with such a decision that took Snowy by surprise.
Today she skips the section in documentation which requires her to state whether she’s male or female.
“The government has left the population of the transgender people out, but it does not take one day to change. It takes long.”
She’s fortunate in that she has a job and is able to get her medication from a private doctor, but she recognises the challenges facing other transgender women.
Some end up looking for help on the black market, something that may have dire consequences.
Her view is clear: “The government should intervene.”
But, for now, Snowy’s own path is looking steady.