In Cameroon and many other African countries, transgender people encounter curiosity but also hostility when they appear in public. This is the story of one trans woman who doesn’t dare to walk outside during daylight hours.
By Courtney Stans
Tall, her hips swaying, her hair blowing free in the wind, 25-year-old Ebro (a pseudonym) lives in fear.
In appearance, she is a beautiful woman, though she was biologically male at birth.
Like a bat, she only goes out at night. If Ebro walked outside her one-bedroom home in eastern Cameroon during daylight hours, she might be lynched.
“I always felt like a woman in my soul so, for my own health, I chose to express that in my appearance,” she said.
At the time, she was only 18, but her family immediately rejected her.
“I’ve learned to live with the hurtful judgments of others, but it’s difficult. I don’t dare to show myself in broad daylight. If I did, I would fear being lynched,” Ebro said.
She has never received any professional or commercial training, so now she depends on sex work. At least it’s an occupation that allows her to work nights.
“My life has to be very well organized,” she said. “I have to do my shopping in the morning when I get home after a hectic night. I always keep necessary supplies on hand, so I don’t need to go out during the day.”
Despite the difficulties she faces, Ebro said, “Currently, I feel good. It’s good to be alive even if it is still difficult for me to live like everyone else — going out during the day, shopping, walking, having friends and visitors, having fun and having a decent job. ”
The East is a region of Cameroon that borders several other African countries. Society there is very traditional.
The expansion of Islam there makes it risky for LGBTI people to come out into the open, but Ebro dreams that she will some day be able to do so.
“My wish is to be accepted and tolerated despite my gender identity and expression,” she said.
The author of this article, Courtney Stans, is a journalist in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].