After tackling an Ask Afrobella, it’s always great to catch up with the person who wrote to me with a question. The questioning bella formerly known as “C” replied to the encouraging comments all of you left on the A Most Unique Ask Afrobella post. Here’s that comment in its entirety, in case you missed it:

Wow. There’s so much here to respond to.
First of all, thank you, Afrobella, for being so wonderful in your response, and dedicating the time to doing this.

Secondly, the hair advice is all excellent, and I will definitely be trying/following/etc. it as I get time.

Now for the other stuff.
As some commenters have said, I really would prefer it if I were referred to using female pronouns. I see myself as a girl. Therefore it’s difficult for me to read/ hear something calling me ‘he’ and apply it to myself.

The “Am I really ready?” question. Well, yes. I’ve dealt with this for 6 years of secondary school (I’m going into upper sixth in September. Not sure what year that is in American terms, but I’m 17). I know that I’ll be happier presenting how I want to be, whatever the outcome. I am ready for this. However, to be honest, I’m not sure that there will be any problems. Since emailing Afrobella the first time, I’ve come out completely in my school. Everyone there knows now, and everyone is incredibly supportive. People have been curious, but not hostile (“Go C!!” – My school is, thankfully, not one where I’ll need pepper spray, but thanks for the advice).

As for why I didn’t want my photo/name published. Well, my full name (not Chia) is quite rare, so any references to me on the internet are therefore fairly easy to find.
Whilst I would never want to be “stealth”, I also want to be in control of who knows my medical history. Dan asked “You think they won’t notice you, when you are suddenly walking around with breasts?”

No, I’m not that naïve, but at the same time, do you go around saying “Hi, I’m Dan, I’m gay”?
I don’t really know why I didn’t want my photograph published. Just being in the closet mindset for so long, I suppose. Old habits die hard. Then again, it’s not as if a photograph can be searched for in the same way as a name. By all means, Afrobella, publish it. It might be helpful for people to see where I’m coming from.

There was a lot that I wanted to cover here, so I might have forgotten something, but I’ll post it if I have.

Again, thanks, to everyone, for your support and advice.
Chia (C)

I was super happy to hear that “C,” now Chia, was ready and resolute for whatever lay ahead.

I was even happier to hear from Chia again this weekend, this time with a new photo, a new hairstyle, and new experiences. The photo on the left is the first one Chia sent me, when she was understandably shy about posting photos on the internet. Now, check out Chia with her fly twists — this is a recent passport photo, so that explains the expression, or lack thereof. And she shared a sweet story about going back to school.

There have been a couple of comments, but only from the younger years, and nothing openly hostile. I’m definitely feeling much happier, and people have been generally accepting and wonderful. A genuinely heartwarming example of this is as follows:
A small child – year 7/8 (that’s about 11 years old) – came up to me after school the other day and asked “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but is it true that you had a sex change?”. So, I explained about my situation, and when I had finished, he replied “Is that all? Why is everyone making such a fuss then?” I found that lovely.

I do too, Chia. And I hope that’s the norm rather than the exception. Hearing that story lifted my spirits, and gave me a little more hope for a more tolerant future — life is too short and too beautiful for hatred, judgment, and phobias against people in general, I say. Thank you so much for approaching me with your question, and I sincerely hope by you being so open and allowing me to share photos of you with other bellas and fellas out there, others can learn from you.

I wish you the best of luck, and I know the rest of the Afrobella family does as well!

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HeavenLeiBlu says:
September 14, 2008, 11:32 pm
Chia is gorgeous! I think her puff is cute too, just needed maybe a lil pomade around the edges to slick it back. I'm glad she's doing well and that her transition to coming out at school isn't as disastrous as I'd imagined. Blessings!
J. Diva says:
September 14, 2008, 11:36 pm
I second Heavenleiblue...C is rockin' the twists!!! Go girl!
dan says:
September 14, 2008, 11:54 pm
In all fairness, I do walk around saying "Hi, I'm Dan, I'm gay!"
Kenyan Sister says:
September 15, 2008, 4:39 am
Love the twists. They're gorgeous
Angie says:
September 15, 2008, 7:01 am
Chia, you look beautiful. Continue to stand tall in your truth.
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
September 15, 2008, 7:52 am
Chia,I really wish you all the best,and many blessings.What do you use on your skin? it's flawless girl.
tanya says:
September 15, 2008, 8:13 am
Chia, you look fabulous! You such a beautiful and incredibly strong young woman, I wish you much success throughout your life.
ceecee says:
September 15, 2008, 8:22 am
Chia, you look amazing before and after; you are wise beyond your years, I hope you never have to experience any form of ugliness. This is so inspiring, thank you Bella.
bella says:
September 15, 2008, 8:53 am
LOL @ Dan -- this is why I love you. You are hilarious. Cosign with Mrs McKinzie -- Chia does have flawless skin, right? Any skin care secrets, Chia? Inquiring minds want to know!
2bnatural says:
September 15, 2008, 9:00 am
Thanks Bella. I was hoping you would update us on this Ask Afrobella. And Chia, I find YOU lovely.
WARRIOR11209 says:
September 15, 2008, 9:54 am
Chia is beautiful - she is rockin' those twists. I totally agree - I hope that others do not see her change as a big deal.. Tx for the update !
Niki says:
September 15, 2008, 9:55 am
Chia, I am too jealous! You are stunningly beautiful! Yes, you have to give up your skincare secrets! ON a more serious note, I am glad to hear that you are doing well and that you are being supported!
Bridget says:
September 15, 2008, 10:31 am
Thanks so much for updating us on this Bella! Chia is gorgeous, and let me also add that the skin is lookin' flawless! I love her confidence and how strong her resolve is...Chia, continue to grow into the beautiful woman you are, and I wish you nothing but the best!
Shell says:
September 15, 2008, 11:56 am
Chia, I'm glad you were able to come out fully and have the support of people around you. Your picture looks lovely and I love your hair. Hugs and kisses to you.
heyhey says:
September 15, 2008, 3:57 pm
Wow, Chia's beautiful! Her hair is lovely in both, imho. Also, lovely eyebrows (heyhey grabs her tweezers, inspired). That anecdote about the 7 year old brought a tiny tear to my eye. Thank you for the update!
carla says:
September 15, 2008, 4:25 pm
Gorgeous in both pictures, and that's a passport photo?!?! Girl, I wish! It's great to have the photos because they're a good example of how we doubt ourselves and our choices, especially around our natural beauty, and yet to the next person we're thoroughly enviable as we are. Thanks for the follow-up, 'Bella and Chia!
LBellatrix says:
September 15, 2008, 11:09 pm
I wish my twists looked like that! (I just have another year of growth to go.) Chia, you are lovely and I wish you all the best in your undoubtedly bright future.
isme says:
September 16, 2008, 10:24 am
Ok Bella I'm not sure I agree with all the advice given to Chia but I do love the hairstyle all the same. Let me ask you something as a Caribbean Bella, Chia seems to be in a relatively liberal private school what if a teenager from a "Compre" (no you don't need to explain this term to the american readers just say rural/urban public school) had asked or is reading this dealing with the same issue would your advice be the same? I know there are some Caribbean teenagers that need to make this decision to come out only after graduating and not because of their own safety, but because they don't have mummybellas or daddybellos at home to explain acceptance and differences etc. Chia would be called a chi-chi man or worst and those taking Chia's side would be labelled negatively as well.
bella says:
September 16, 2008, 10:49 am
VERY good question, isme. I've learned so much about tolerance and acceptance since leaving the Caribbean ten years ago. But if Chia lived in Jamaica or even Trinidad, which I like to think of as more tolerant... I might not have given the same advice. Actually, if Chia lived in the Caribbean, she might not be writing me this e mail, period. For the Caribbean bellas who are living in judgmental societies and struggling with gender or sexual orientation issues, I think it's very important to somewhere, find someone you can talk to about the issues you're dealing with. A counselor at school. A favorite teacher. Someone who will listen without judging you. In the islands, those like Chia are often negatively labeled and forced to deal with discrimination and hate. I would love to hear from more Caribbean people about this -- if Chia was from the islands, I hate to imagine the pressure she might have endured at home, at school, and everywhere she went. What advice would you have given, isme? As someone who (I assume) still lives in the Caribbean?
isme says:
September 16, 2008, 12:28 pm
This happened to a friend when we were Chia's age. I advised that those who truely loved him would understand, don't expect others to accept you, be prepared to deal with the negative flood that was about to come your way and that his lifestyle is a choice so deal with the consequences! He did and it was part of his life experience as a gay caribbean man. The most important advice came when we got real. I stressed that he needed to wrap it up tight because whilst we tend to follow America, we also do not have the capacity or facilities to handle HIV/AIDS. This double life that the gay caribbean community tolerates of being happily married seemingly hetrosexual whilst keeping outside gay lovers proves that it was every man's responsiblity to protect himself. More on this another day!
T says:
September 16, 2008, 9:34 pm
As a lesbian living in the Caribbean my advice would be to not really expect acceptance from most people. The region is not that big on anything anti-machismo or anything that is deemed ungodly...sinful, at least not out in public. Luckily, my experience hasn't been so bad because I'm surrounded by people who care for me and people that have been exposed to life off of the island (this makes a huge difference, I think) so it's not so much a big deal. With all that being said though, nobody mentions or acknowledges the fact that I'm a lesbian. So we don't deal with it. What had helped too is having friends that are the same way that you can have your escape and just be yourself at times. If you look carefully and have a ear open you can always find another person you can be yourself. And what's usually the case is, those who can, usually pack up and leave the first chance they get. Which is really sad because we end up losing some really brilliant, creative and forward-thinking individuals that could really do good on the island. The internet has been great too, as far as helping some of us find a community and like-minded, or just accepting, people. Last thing, I love this site so. It's such a treasure. Thanks for your effort, Afrobella.
Beth says:
September 16, 2008, 11:39 pm
Thanks for the update! I'm so happy for you, Chia! And, I agree w/everyone else here--your hair looks fabulous and you've got gorgeous skin!
Nona says:
September 17, 2008, 3:41 pm
Actually this is an ending that could only have come out of Europe, but it is surprising even for Britain.
Dnelly says:
September 17, 2008, 6:42 pm
Hey Bellas! Go on C with'cha BAD SELF! I'm loving them twist boo!
brightstarr says:
September 20, 2008, 11:55 am
Beautiful twists Chia! My only question is what kind of moisturizer do you use? I'm loving the look!
Miss Cocoa Luv says:
September 25, 2008, 9:56 pm
I think what's more moving about this situation is that everyone is so positive.
Chia says:
October 18, 2008, 10:04 am
I don't use any moisturiser, so I can't recommend anything specific. Sorry! :p I really appreciate all of the comments on here. It's nice to know the opinions of people I don't know. Isme - Actually, I go to a state school. Your point still stands though, because it is a very liberal and accepting one. If you compare my school to others in the local area, mine is definitely the best equipped to deal with the situation. I'm lucky to be in such an accepting environment, and obviously my choices have been based on that. That said, even if I had been in a less liberal school, I might have made the same choice, because I think I would still be happier having transitioned. The choices that someone should make really depend on their personal situation. Even if that weren't the case, I don't know really know what the education system is in the Carribean, so I can't comment. Hmm - that question wasn't directed at me, and I didn't even really answer it, but oh well.
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September 14, 2014, 9:05 pm
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