“YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A CERTAIN WAY IN ORDER TO HAVE A PLACE ON THIS EARTH” – MASA TOM
Masawandile Tom is a young trans content creator and chartered accountant driving inclusivity in South Africa by sharing her authentic experiences of living openly
While South Africa was the first country to adopt a constitution that explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, many trans people have or will experience some sort of discrimination in their lifetime.
Before Masa came out openly as a trans woman, she was operating at what she believes was 65% of her potential. “There were fleeting moments where I would get a peek of what my life could look like if I was fully, you know myself. It felt like I was postponing living my truth. But one day, I got to the point where I was ready to be honest about who I was and everything just fell into place.”
As a trans women, Masa finds power in the pronouns she identifies with. “Having someone ask me my pronouns and them respecting them is so affirming. It’s a signal of deep respect, a form of love language, a signal that says I am invited to the table.”
The trans community often struggle to access health care and face unfair discrimination in access to education, sport, employment, and social security. To encourage more acceptance and understanding NESTLÉ CREMORA, Joy of Inclusion campaign, has recognized Masa Tom to represent the transgender community in celebrating, feeling, and sharing the Joy of Inclusion.
To highlight her #Everybodyisincluded and spread cheer around inclusivity, Masa shares how she came to fully embrace who she was despite fear of rejection.
When did you realise that you were ready to be openly and honestly you?
I would say just a little over two years ago. There were a series of moments and then a switch just went off saying ‘girl, this is your time, if not now then when?’ March 2022 was when I was emotionally ready to embrace all of me.
How did you face your fears of not knowing how people would react? Do you still battle with those fears today?
I don’t even want to lie and say that the fear completely goes away. But I became better and stronger. The fears were there, but the desire to live fully and in my truth eventually outweighed the fear.
What does Joy Of Inclusion mean to you?
It’s respecting, despite of differences. We might have not walked the same road but that should not invalidate the amount of respect that I should give you. I should respect your time, your dreams, I should respect everything that you are without having that come with a condition.
What steps do you think Mzansi communities , the public can take to embrace inclusivity?
I think the general public should start listening more, listen without interrupting or to respond or to judge. Just listen.
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About NESTLÉ CREMORA Joy of Inclusion Campaign
In 2021, NESTLÉ CREMORA took a bold step and launched the Joy Of Inclusion campaign, to inspire South Africans to share their own stories of the joy of inclusion while driving meaningful and engaging conversations on inclusion
In 2022, the Joy of Inclusion campaign, will deepen the conversation by giving a progressive and impactful voice to diverse and under represented communities. South Africans who represent these communities’ hero the campaign and through their stories help us to celebrate what makes us all unique whilst deepening conversations around inclusion. The themes are May; Albinism, June; International Pride, July; Mental Health, August; Body Positivity, September; Language, October; African Pride and November; Differently Abled.