Picture: Dee Watlters/Shoots by Design

Cape Town - When you meet Robyn Alaina Botha, you wouldn’t suspect that she is a transgender woman who has been struggling with her gender identity since birth. 

Botha was born Dewald Botha.

"I always felt as if there was something wrong with me. As a boy, the reflection in the mirror staring back at me was someone I couldn’t relate to. It always seemed that the person I was seeing was someone else."

Her parents started to notice she had developed an obsession with dressing up and decided to take her to a specialist. At the age of five, her parents were dealt a blow, she said.

"I was diagnosed as transgender, shattering my parents’ dream of a model son. I was trapped in a body that didn’t belong to me. It was frightening," she said.

"I've always considered myself female at the back of my head."

At 16, Botha began her transition.

"I started throwing out all my male clothes and bought myself a whole new wardrobe, and I started dressing as a female," she said. While transitioning Botha decided to drop out of school after completing Grade 9, and started attending college instead.

"I lost all my friends that I had and I didn’t care because it's my life and I just couldn't live my life as a person I’m not.

"It was very difficult because of all the hate that I received and I was in college when I started and I received a lot of hate from students and even my lecturers," she said.

At the age of 18, Botha began hormone replacement therapy. 

Robyn before and after her transition. Picture: Supplied

During this time she applied for gender reassignment surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital.

But, the waiting list at a government hospital is at least 25 years, she said, as the State only carries the cost of two to three operations a year.

Her transition didn't go down well with her family. 

"My family and I don’t get along with because half of my family disowned me and they are extremely closed-minded people. My father also didn’t want anything to do with me for a long time and then two years ago we started talking again."

Crowdfunding is the only way Botha can raise the funds to complete her transition. 

"This is the only option I have at the moment because the surgery is so expensive, so there is no way I can actually afford the surgery even if I save up for it. It's going to take more than 20 years."

Botha aims to raise over R200 000 to pay for the surgery, and has reached R2 719.46 so far.  

She also hopes her campaign will empower transgender individuals to step out and share their stories.

You can support her campaign here.

[email protected]

Cape Argus