Robyn Botha (Pic: Dee Watlters)
A 22-year-old transgender woman is asking members of the community to help make her gender affirming surgery a reality.
Make-up artist Robyn Botha from Cape Town has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise R200,000 so that she’ll be able to feel like she’s physically “complete”.
At birth, Botha was named Dewald and assigned “male” as her gender. “I always felt as if there was something wrong with me,” says Botha.
“As a boy, the reflection in the mirror staring back at me was someone I couldn’t relate to. It always seemed that the person I was seeing was someone else.”
Her battle with her identity would follow her into high school, where she was bullied for being “too” feminine. “It started with name calling and then progressed to me being physically assaulted by my male classmates on a daily basis,” reveals Botha. “Teachers turned a blind eye – nothing was ever done about it.”
After years of fighting her identity and trying to fit into a society that misunderstood her, she learned to embrace herself and started living as the woman she was born to be. At 17, Botha started dressing as a woman. She legally changed gender on her ID book and Dewald officially became Robyn. This empowered her to be true to herself, but she still felt incomplete.
The stigma she faced would lead her to attempt suicide multiple times. It would also prevent her from finishing college and finding a job to support herself.
At 18, Botha started government issued hormone replacement therapy. She also applied for gender affirming surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital. She was, however, discouraged to learn that the government only pays for two to three surgeries a year, making the waiting list up to 25 years long.
The idea of spending her life in “the wrong body” made Botha feel hopeless. This was a reality she reluctantly accepted for almost three years, as a R200 000 procedure seemed unachievable on her salary. She then turned to South African crowdfunding platform Backabuddy to fund her gender affirming surgery.
The strategy is not a new one. Earlier this year, transgender Cape Town student Siphesihle Magudulela raised $2,456 (around R32,300) towards his gender affirming ‘top’ surgery.
“It’s actually a common thing for trans people to have fundraising campaigns for their surgeries because it is so expensive and not all trans people can afford it,” Botha tells Mambaonline.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted in life,” she adds. “Once I’ve had the surgery, I will feel complete and at peace with my body.”
With the campaign, Botha wants to empower other transgender individuals to step out and share their stories with the world, so they can be their best selves.
“I want to remind the trans community that they are not alone and they are all beautiful. It may seem like the whole world is against everything we stand for but trust me, it will get better and in your life you will encounter people to lend you the love and support you deserve,” Botha says.
If you’d like to contribute towards Botha’s gender affirming surgery, click here.