Meet Zimbabwe’s own transgender, Tatelicious

Zimbabwe’s own Caitlyn Jenner


SHE once was a man, now Tatelicious Karigambe is a woman. A successful surgery performed in India and the United States of America enabled her to live her dream as a complete woman. Meet Zimbabwe’s own transgender, Tatelicious, who used to be known as Tatenda Karigambe.

The chemical engineer, entrepreneur and activist is more than upbeat about her sex change. “I have finally found peace from broken pieces, and I am happy,” Tatelicious said with an infectious smile.

She said “Tatelicious” relates more with her feminine self and Tatenda is more of a reminder of her struggles. Karigambe has defied the odds, becoming the first Zimbabwean to publicly speak out about being a transgender in the country.

“Transgender” essentially means having the body of one gender and the brain or the mind or the spirit of the opposite gender, according to Darlene Tando, a licensed clinical social worker and gender therapist in the United States.

Donning a designer coat, fancy heels and a huge handbag, Tatelicious looked and smelled glamorous as she walked through the doors of the Weekend Post offices. Before the transformation, Tatelicious had lived with self-hate and discrimination from other people who used to call her names and label her “gay”.

“I had to live a life of neglecting myself. Because before I was neglected by other people, I neglected myself, that internal trans-phobia of hating yourself , and I would speak to my mom, telling her that people were calling me gay and I would say , ‘but ini handisi gay mom (I am not gay mom). This p***s is not who I am, but I am telling you that I am a lady inside’,” Tatelicious said.

“And you know the way I was communicating, internally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, everything was just feminine,” she said.

Before she finally decided to transform, her mother had taken her to many traditional healers and prophets so that they could remove the “female spirit” as people had said it was.

“I was taken to traditional healers, prophets and at one time drank 40 raw eggs, but it didn’t help and even my mother realised she was abusing her child,” she said also taking some time to reminisce about how she once dated a woman, but realised there was no attraction.

Tatelicious said she does not hate people who say what she did was satanic or those who judge her when they do not know her, as she is a believer as much as everyone else. “I believe in God and I believe he wants the best for us, and now I believe I have the ability to achieve the best for me and people I stand up for. And I don’t understand people who call me satanic or those names,” she said.

Change of lifestyle:
“The change of lifestyle was dramatic, because you have to have a certain deportment, getting into dresses and stuff like that. But when you are undergoing hormonal therapy it has to start from inside, so you have now to train your body.

“And I remember my first years in heels ndaidonha and ndaidzida dziri hombe hombe (I would fall and I wanted them really high), but it was all worth it, because I knew I was fighting for myself, fighting for my gender, fighting for Tatelicious.

“I got tips from fashionistas, like the late Joan Rivers, Laverne Cox, and others through the television and for personal coaching I believe my mom did it for me best, watching her. And as a lady you don’t stop shopping, and I love designer wear.

“I am married, he is white, yes, and I have a daughter, Trish. She is four, and we are a loving family. “I want my child to know that her mother is a fighter, and representing the ‘trans’. I am an open book and I will open up to her. Imagine I have opened up to Zimbabwe.

“I first went on my own to the Registrar-General’s office to change my name and sex, but eish it got dramatic, ‘come and see what’s here! What is this? We don’t know this!’ and someone advised me to do it through the lawyers so I did but you know it’s a struggle.

“I am not gay, I am a transwoman, and though now that I am completely a woman, “I want trans” to be there because it is that fighting spirit.”


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Tatelicious underwent surgery in India in 2013 to have a vaginal plastic surgery and also underwent breast augmentation.
“The process is not done, I have to take hormonal pills for life,” she said.

“So what they do is they do not cut off the p***s, they reassign a p***s into a v****a. What they cut off are the testicles, leaving the scrotum and that is what they will build to be the clitoris. They dissect the p***s and turn it inside. I healed in about 4 months, but it’s usually 4-6 months.

“Then you stay with a cylindrical object inside so that the skin won’t stick back together. And you must not have sex in one year. Then I had to go for check-ups but it was painful but worth it. And you have diapers, but I had my sister to help me.
“The procedure cost over $80 000 but the money didn’t come at once, it was from savings and helpers who also advised me on how to invest and other organisations like UNAids which give attention to the ‘key populations’.

“You also have to stay healthy, and eat healthy, and I also want to advise the trans not to sleep around because it is really sensitive. You have to stay clean.”

Tatelicious, who is in her twenties and was raised by a single mother in Budiriro, said she had been able to tell her story everywhere else except her own home country, and hoped that President Robert Mugabe would read about her story.

“I would love to have the president read my story, for him to hear that there is a Tatelicious out there. I suffered stigmatisation out there, from my family, the inner family (sisters and mother) was okay, but there are some family members who don’t even talk to me and say ndiri kushamisira (I’m showing off) and this is all because there is not much education on transgender.

“And our setting in Zimbabwe has made us only acknowledge two genders, female and male and we have ignored the third gender, which is the intersex. People think it’s a Western influence, but look at hermaphrodites like Caster Semenya and people the late Samukeliso Sithole, we have those people from Africa, so I do not get why people think it’s Western-influenced,” she said.

“And I am just telling people my story and want Zimbabweans to understand that it’s not a disease or syndrome or a Western influence, a lot of people remain in silence,” said Tatelicious.She said she was ready to face anything that came her way.

“I am even ready to sit with the Members of Parliament to tell my story. Judgment comes every day and it’s difficult. I am ready for anything that comes along, and I am not trying to make money by this, no, I have my own money, I am a hard worker, it’s not about that, it’s about being understood,” Tatelicious said.

She said she wants to stand up for the transgender most of whom kill themselves when they discover who they are or leave the country or just become disconnected.

“What I have realised is if people discover they are transgender, they kill themselves, or even run away from the country. I am a proud Zimbabwean and a daughter of the Zimbabwean soil.
“Many parents have lost their children, emotionally, spiritually and physically lost contact with,” she said.

“Generally, women support me, but women who hate me hate me for my style and men judge and ask ‘why did you do it?’. I have my own organisation called Tatenda NGO, which stands for the key populations,” said Tatelicious

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Source: News24Zim

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