When I asked Kit*, a 34-year-old transgender illustrator, to sit down with me to discuss her (Kit’s preferred gender pronouns are ‘she/her’ and ‘they/their/ them’, and for ease of reading I’ll use ‘she/her’ throughout this article) experiences, I don’t know what I expected. Girl talk? What is that even? One of the first things Kit told me was how, when she came out as trans, her girlfriends immediately started trying to share makeup tips, ‘as if that’s what makes a woman’. I heard the question in her voice and it’s an important one: not about makeup but about what makes us. What started out as a chat about being a trans woman in South Africa grew into something much bigger: an examination of what it means to be trans but also of what it means to be a woman. And it’s about damn time we made some space.
THE PINKS AND THE BLUES
‘Kids don’t think of themselves as anything but themselves until they start being told how they’re supposed to be,’ says Kit. For Kit, then a child by a different name, it happened at all-boys’ schools (as Kit describes them, ‘rigidly gendered spaces that enforce a specific kind of masculinity’), it happened growing up in a religious household, it happened walking with a group of other teenage boys, all passing judg