Recently I got my second opportunity to work with Botswana’s premier androgynous model – Theo Kesaobaka.
From the day I met Theo, we have kept in close contact and often chat about the different scenarios she faces on a day to day basis. Only a few weeks ago during the University of Botswana strikes, she was detained by the police and interrogated about her looks, dress and sexuality. I find this to be an utter disgrace on the Botswana Police Services’ behalf as they have no right to apprehend and detain a person based on their confusion of the detainee’s gender or sexual orientation.
There was a recent incident in a shopping mall, when strangers started a ruckus because they were “confused” by the way Theo dressed. When in actual fact, she is simply exercising an unspoken right to dress however she so feels, it was nothing nearly as provocative as in the photos below.
To send my message across clearly, I will race forward to the day of the photo shoot. Theo and I met up early on a Saturday morning to get snapping. Theo came through with a gorgeous wardrobe filled to the brim with accessories. I was elated to say the least, and we got straight into the beautiful art of photography.
During the two-hour long process I marveled at how confident Theo was. She exuded a type of confidence that one would expect to see from the likes of Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Beyonce. I was literally in awe the whole time. I kept asking myself how someone so confident with them self could remain so strong, courageous and resilient in our immediate traditional society?
I was quickly answered when the time came to drop Theo and her two accomplices off at a local shopping mall. While walking through the mall we drew loads of attention, but I’m used to it, because I’m literally pointed at everywhere I go and called “lekgoa” (white person). No big deal. Once making our order at Chicken Licken, Theo and I needed to use the loo, so we went off in pursuit of the closest bathroom. We chatted the whole way and Theo was her usual bubbly self, until we reached the bathroom signs. Ahh, the universal separation between male, female, disabled, androgynous, trans and questioning people. The barrier that neglects to accommodate the last three of the aforementioned. Theo looked like a deer caught in the headlights. She stopped dead in her steps and asked me “which toilet do you use?” I told her I used the men’s toilets and she suddenly slumped in her posture. She looked up and stared at the signs and suddenly brisked it off with these simple words, “I will use the disabled one, after all, everyone thinks I’m disabled.”
How can we live in a society where androgynous, trans and questioning people feel safer to use a ‘disabled’ toilet in public rather than risk using the bathroom that they identify as? The answer is simple. We should introduce self contained cubicles that have a toilet, basin and lockable door. No more signage to separate men from women and disabled people.
Below are some of the photos that I took of Theo. Please note, this was the first time she has ever posed topless and the photos stand to empower androgynous people.
Thank you for reading this blog. Take care and stay blessed. Xx