This is a two part series that is built upon our November-April 2000 print issue. In that issue we explored the diversity of human sexuality. The exhibit, “Is it a Girl or a Boy? Gender Identity and Children’s Clothing” at Richmond’s Valentine Museum inspired the exploration.
Since that release, America has evolved from discussing the diversity of human sexuality to codifying same gender loving rights along that of women, Blacks, the mentally and physically challenged, and others. Now, the new frontier is codifying the rights of other sexual minorities.
In this series, we share the stories to two intriguing transpeople.
In the next Snippets we share the story of African-American Earline Budd,
Male to Female
Nigerian-American Dr. Rizi Timane
Female to Male
Nigerian-born Rizi Timane was 23 and studying for his master’s degree in London when his mother flew in from Nigeria. Timane recalls his mother demanding that “it was time for me to start planning to become "normal" and to plan on marrying a man by any means necessary.” He was not only opposed to an arranged marriage, but felt trapped in a woman’s body. “I was still in a female, body pre-transition at this point, and only attracted to women,” he told Port Of Harlem.
As his breast grew, he prayed to God that he would become a boy.
In “An UnSpoken Compromise
,” Dr. Timane talks about his life’s journey and transition from female to male. Timane recalls identifying as being male when he was six and by the time he was eight he had told his father. “The feeling had become so intense that I went into my dad’s room one morning and told him with absolute certainty that I was a boy,” Timane says.
As his breast grew, he prayed to God that he would become a boy. But, by the time Timane was a teen, he began to settle in his body and just assumed he was a lesbian.
At 15, he went to London for studies and subsequently spent time in London and Lagos. The confrontation with his mother when he was 23 caused him to have a nervous breakdown and like many sexual minorities, Timane dabbled into drug and alcohol abuse and contemplated suicide.
It was a counselor, with whom he confided, in London, who assisted him to the United States via a student visa.
“I came to LA and though I knew no one, I was very happy to be free. But of course, I wasn't really free because I was so hurt that I developed low self-esteem and internalized homophobia,” he says. After a long break in communication, Timane said of his family “they never intended to push me so far away that I would run away. It was at that point that we began our unspoken compromise where neither would talk about sexuality or gender issues to avoid another big fall out,” he recalls.
Today, after more than nine surgeries, including a bilateral mastectomy (the removal of female breasts and the creation of a male chest) and phalloplasty (the creation of a “normal” sized male genitalia), he is physically and spiritually a man. He added, “I am happy to say that as of March 2014, my surgical transition became complete and I couldn’t be happier!”
With a doctorate in Christian counseling, Timane is contributing to the development of the United States by practicing his faith of affirming all and not the "involuntary religious-based abuse
" Timane says he experienced. Now an American citizen, Timane is glad to be in the USA, “I do often miss being in Nigeria, but I would never trade living a free life in the USA for anything.”
But, he has not forgotten those in his homeland. “My constant thoughts and prayers are with my remaining LGBT family, so to speak, who continue to live in Nigeria where only recently a harsh and draconian law which violates all LGBT civil rights was passed which was followed by outburst of violence against the community. I will continue to do what I can to advocate for change.”