I WILL CHOOSE MY OWN IDENTITY AND CLOTHES!
This story was written by Immaculate Nakimera from UGANDA.
I was raised by a single mother after having lost my dad at a very tender age. Before I was born, my mum and dad had given birth to my sister and brother. My sister was the first born while I was the last. As we grew up, my sister was always in a boarding school while my brother and I were in day schools. She usually came back home for short holidays. I spent most of the time with my brother and he became my childhood best friend. He was a friend whom I entrusted with my secrets and he entrusted me with his.
I associated myself a lot with my brother and other mutual friends. I was the only girl in the group and always wore my late dad's clothes to fit in the group. At time in my community, women mostly wore dresses, skirts and it was rare to find a woman wearing trousers. By then, ladies trousers were not so common and were rarely sold in the market, but I felt more comfortable wearing men’s clothes.
My mum never bought me trousers and never wanted me to wear them, most especially on Sundays for church. On these occasions I used to wear dresses, but never liked them because I always felt uncomfortable in them. Trousers were the perfect fit for my lifestyle. Whenever I wore men’s clothes, I was always mistaken for a boy. Usually in the evening after school, we played football and I could be the only girl among boys, yet I could only be identified by a few friends. I was a good footballer and I believe I inherited the talent from my late dad, because during the 70’s he was a football player in one of the Ugandan football clubs.
Almost 90% of the people in my community knew me as a boy. The few who knew my true identity were my school mates and friends. Sometimes when I moved on the streets, people usually looked at me critically; I always heard them make funny comments about me. These comments always made me feel uncomfortable and out of place, which always made me to wonder why God made me a girl, but there was nothing I could change or take back.
Change is a fact of life. Every human body goes through change, and this was the toughest process I encountered in my life. I was around ten years old when my breasts started to grow big. I usually wore big shirts and a jacket to hide them, because I never wanted to be noticed as a girl. I lived with this self denial for along time until I came to realize that, in every tough situation, there is always something good that comes out of it. I believe God does not make mistakes. All the tough situations I encountered made me stronger, focused and courageous. I discovered my potential which made me know who I am.
I lived with this self denial for along time until I came to realize that, in every tough situation, there is always something good that comes out of it.
At the age of 14, I joined a boarding school which was single sex. My mum took me to this school because she wanted me to change my character. It was a different environment according to what I was used to. We wore dresses for uniforms all the time, and the school had strict rules. But although my surrounding changed, I never ceased to behave like a boy. It was a part of me, something I had grown up with and still feel today.
I still wear trousers, although they are ladies trousers, but there is no change in my looks – some people still look at me on streets, wondering my true identity. I no longer hide my breasts in denial. I appreciate what I am and who I became, because it is unique. Not every woman looks like a man and not every man looks like a woman, but I look like both. When I wear a dress I look a lady and when I wear trousers, I look like more of a gentleman. I take this as a gift and I intend to use it in the movie industry. I have a dream of becoming a Hollywood actress. I believe with my character, I will be a great asset to this industry.
Any girl out there who may be going through or have gone through the same situation as I have, do not feel ashamed of yourself. Embrace what you have. Wear clothes which make you feel comfortable and do not mind what others say about you. It is the 21st Century, with all its different kinds of fashion clothes. Choose to be happy, love yourself and your lifestyle. It is your life and we all live once. What matters most is who you are on the inside and not at the outside.
This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Immaculate Nakimera, aged 26 years. I live in Uganda and I hold a BSc in Physics attained from Kyambogo University, Uganda. My interests are writing, acting and outdoor sports.