Purity is a trans lady, born and raised in Uganda. She is also a human rights activist, a social scientist, a motivational speaker, a mental health champion, actress, model, fashion collector, and stylist. And she is a columnist at Signature reports.
In 2020 I was finally granted asylum in Sweden after what seemed like an endless wait since I left my home in Uganda in 2016. For close to a decade I lived as a fugitive, including 5 years in Kenya where my journey began at the notoriously transphobic Kakuma Refugee Camp in the northwest of the country and Nairobi respectively. I was utterly relieved to leave my former host country behind, a country where I had lived in daily fear of my life. However, soon after my arrival in my new host country, I was met with a dose of European transphobia.
From the point I landed at the Swedish airport, the reason why I was there in the first place – my transitioning journey – seemed irrelevant. “Purity you will have to wait for two years in the queue, you have to stop the black market hormones you have been taking, a specialist will examine you to know if you are trans or not or if you need hormones or transitioning procedures.” The initial exuberance of my relocation was a damper and I felt powerless believing that any rejection or non-compliance with this paternalistic approach could possibly risk my status in my new home. I had so many whispering questions, some of which, I guess, only the skies can answer.
Confused, I wondered why I was resettled to a country on the basis of my gender identity if even here I am not accepted for who I am. How much more scrutiny could I bear? How much more waiting was going to be expected of me? Despite the fact that Sweden occupies the 7th place of Rainbow Europe’s ranking after achieving tremendous stripes for the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community, the community is largely white and is catered to accordingly. For example; a year later I am still struggling to find a black transitioning therapist or doctor.
Granting black transgender people refuge from transphobia in Africa and then not holistically catering for their medical needs in Europe is a form of racism and health discrimination. Who can I trust and turn to for understanding and reassurance with the uncertainties and needs of my black trans body which may vastly differ from that of white trans bodies? Who will address my concerns about whether the research on the recommended medication even had black trans people in focus or if it will result in more gender dysphoria for me? The word gender in Sweden may have more than one meaning, but both seem to serve the primary purpose of categorization under the white gaze. As an African trans lady living in Europe, my gender is first and foremost black.
My needs should be met at the intersections of my identity and those include; basic human rights, nonjudgemental healthcare, the right to decide over my own body, we come wounded from vast trans phobias, some are victims of rape, torture, banishments, and abuse at the very least offer us timely mental health and gender-based violence therapies, transitioning therapies should start right at the inception when we arrive the fact that it’s solely why we are here. These are few out of many and should be met at the intersection of my identity as a black trans woman.