Drum – 22 August 2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1

Growing up Azara Raphael felt she was in the

wrong body – but thanks to a sex change she’s

living her best life and finally feels at peace



INCE childhood she
knew she was different
from other kids. Azara
Raphael’s journey to truly
become herself, as a
transgender woman in
South Africa, has been a
painful one marked by
abuse from relatives and discrimination
in her community.
Now she’s sharing her story as a bea-
con of hope to others.
She wants people to know there are
many transgender women out there,
and they’re just like everyone else. “We
have careers and families, and the only
thing we can’t do is bear our own chil-
dren, but we are who we are.”
Azara (34) has always known she is a
woman in a male body.
During her childhood she had the un-
flinching love and support of her par-
ents. “I have always been comfortable
with myself and my sexuality because
of the support from my family. They
never treated me any different from my
two younger siblings or cousins,” she
tells us at her home in Midrand.
Her parents, South African mother
Juliet Maseko and Jamaican father Mi-
chael Raphael, allowed her “the freedom
to express myself however I wanted,
with my dress or hairstyles”.
“They taught me to stand up for what
I believed in and to never seek validation
from anyone. From a young age I knew
what I wanted, and I knew to call out
treatment I didn’t like,” she tells us.
The financial consultant and gender
activist was born in Soweto as Vusumu-
zi Maseko and grew up acrosstheconti-
nent as her father’s worktookthefamily
to Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambiqueand
When Azara was a teenag
told her she needed towor
at school. “So I could afford
for myself because I wasdiff




a betterlife

16 | 22 AUGUST 2019 http://www.drum.co.za
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