Let it come from the mouths of the babes…

Bisexuality Awareness week is celebrated globally from the 16th to the 23rd of September.  The week, also known as #BiWeek, serves to celebrate, educate, and raise awareness on bisexual history, the bisexual community and to amplify voices of people who identify as bisexual. 

The bisexual flag is characterized by three colors: pink, blue, and purple. I am one of those bisexuals who do not remember the order of the color but know that the pink and purple reminds me of a powerful unicorn. The colors pink and blue when mixed on a palette form the bright purple. The colors blue and pink represent the ‘boy’  and ‘girl’ child within heteronormative communities. Prior to the birth, gender reveal parties are held by the excited parents, sharing with their loved ones the expected sex descriptor of the child. Yet, I wonder about the impacts of these and the expectations of the parents. 

When I was expecting my bundle of joy, I refused to know the sex descriptor of the child. The gynae chose to respect the wishes of the father and, at our last scan, whispered rather loudly that it will be a boy child. I went home so upset as all the ‘traditional’ signs were pointing towards a girl. (By traditional signs I mean the stories told to us expecting mothers by elders and older women as signs of the expected child’s sex. These vary from the types of foods a potential mother craves, to sleeping patterns and size of the belly). With a heavy heart, I began searching for a baby name that would be one fitting for a beautiful being. Eventually, I settled for ‘Senzangakhona’, which can be literally translated to “We are doing things correctly/ following processes” (with connections to culture and tradition), adopting it from King Shaka’s father. I was driven to find a flexible name so as not to confine my child to a gender-specific name. My thinking was should my child mature into a masculine-presenting man, he could shorten it by calling himself “Senza” or if they grow up to be feminine presenting, they could adopt the second half of their name “Khona” (pronouncing it Kho-naa, loosely translated to “I am here”). I feared having a boy child as I questioned if I would be a suitable parent to this young man. 

Fast forward the time to seconds after giving birth…the nurse held the screaming child and boldly declared,

‘It’s a girl’

What? I’m sure she’s mistaken, in a daze I asked, “are you sure?”. To which she proceeded to open the little baby’s legs for me to affirm. To which I mumbled a heartfelt thank you to the Universe for hearing my prayers for a girl child.

When we took her for her first check-up, with secondary inspection of the scan, the gynae said that the baby had had her hand somewhere near her thigh and her pinky was misinterpreted for a winky.

Why do I share this story you ask? Well, it’s to demonstrate that despite the technological advancement of our time, we will never be 100% sure. Let’s stop weaving expectations on unborn children of narratives based on gender as this can be a painful burden for them to bear when they start taking ownership and putting language to their sexual orientation and gender expression. Let’s move beyond the pink and blue and focus on the purple! 

Happy Bisexuality Awareness week!!

Nokuthula Mjwara, IAM Process Coordinator