In the morning, Rama had the fright of her life when she found out that none of our participants for the day were responding to any of her texts or calls. We actually left the lodge without any real confirmation, but when we were having breakfast, God came through with Snail.
When we got to his place, he was ready and waiting with a welcoming smile.
Snail is a 24-year-old trans male, from Kroonstad who also happens to be friends with Buhle and Minaj (who is the other young lady we intended on interviewing).
One of the most noticeable traits about Snail’s personality is his mellow demeanour, as well as a subtle shyness. However, that may have been because of the camera’s that showed up at his house on this day.
Ever since we had arrived in Kroonstad, the scorching sun would ring us dry of our fluids and drain us of our energy. So the moment we entered Snail’s home, I let out an involuntary sigh of relief as the coolness of the tile floors radiated throughout the house.
We shot his interview in his bedroom which was quite intimate, with only Twiggy and I and his space.
Snail had no problem with opening up us as we asked him questions about how the pandemic has affected him and his FTM transition. When he began to speak, it was revealed that he was indeed affected greatly. Snail had actually began to detransition because of the obstacles that prevented him from getting his treatment. After meeting several people who have medical requirements, it became obvious that access to medical care had automatically been denied to people who are not in the economically prosperous fraction of the country.
I don’t actually know how Snail managed to keep his composure while talking about having all his progress ripped from under him by the forces caused by the pandemic. He spoke about all changes and reversals that his body underwent and had the courage to show us his chest, which can be a very difficult body part for a trans man to expose to others.
While he was on his treatment, he did not really intend on getting top surgery because the hormones had made his breasts shrink to a point where they were no longer existent. During that time his self-esteem was high because he was able to enjoy his male physique and he even says that going to the gym added to his progress at the time because he was very easily able to build muscle. However, after being off the treatment, his breasts had grown back, and he lost a significant amount of muscle mass.
After all this he was still able to keep his composure throughout the interview. Then I realised that it had to do with the happiness he gets elsewhere; from his girlfriend. I was deeply touched by this, especially since I had been pondering the concept of love and the blankness that would come with these thoughts. I realised that instead of trying to fabricate the meaning of love from a mind and heart that had never experienced it, I could rather observe it. Throughout this experience I’d been exposed to the different faces that love has. I saw love in Snail’s face. I also see it in Twiggy’s face. It becomes evident when the thought of the person they love takes over. This look is only extracted from a persons repertoire of expression when the feeling is there to match. I would want every person to have that look, because somehow it comes with invincibility.
Snails in an extremely supportive relationship with a woman that he is able to connect with in all aspects, giving him safety from any misidentification and gender dysphoria triggers.
Another person that Snail deemed important in his life, is his late grandmother, who supported him throughout his life and even when he came out as trans. He even said that she would have been the one to take him to Pretoria for his treatments during the pandemic.
I noticed that grandmothers are a very important part of a lot of black children’s lives. When our parents refuse to understand us, our identities and our mental dispositions, our grandmothers are the ones we run to for unconditional love and acceptance.