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FULL STORY: Didi’s stand

Leigh-Ann Worrell

FULL STORY: Didi’s stand

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DIDI WINSTON has had trouble sleeping of late.
The satisfaction she seeks – a public apology after a case of poor customer service at PriceSmart, while attempting to buy a radio has been on her mind – yes, her mind – since its occurrence last week.
And some sections of Barbadian society have not made the ordeal any easier, with comments on Facebook and across the Internet following the story’s publication last Saturday, including: “Nation newspaper [should] find . . . another word to describe this person other than SHE.”
People also called the writing of the reporter into question: “Does this writer think he or she is writing an email to one of their friends?” asked another Facebook commenter. “Come on man David Didi Winston is a (sic) dam man and wan[ts] to be woman but it doesn’t makes him a she. Come on! Like are you serious right now?”
But Didi is not a nickname; it is a legal name. Furthermore, Didi identifies as a transwoman, not a man.
“I was she from the womb! Hello!” Didi declares with a bubbly laugh.
Dealing with discrimination and rumours has become something faced by her and other members of the trans community. However, there is nothing that will stop the dancer/entertainer/make-up artist/fashionista from being true to herself.
“I know what discrimination is and no one should have to go through it. [But] as I tell people, it is only hard to live in Barbados if you make it hard to live here . . . I have never let what anybody thinks about me stop me from being me. I have never let anybody decide for me what is for me. I think a lot of people forget about themselves and live for society,” she said in an interview this week.
For Didi, any stand was not only for the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender community, but for all who may have faced discrimination.
“… I know that not everyone is going to be as strong as me. If you set a precedent, people are gonna [say] if Didi did it, and I can do it too.”
From a young age, Didi knew she was different from the boys. She was called “girly” and wanted to know why she was sexually attracted to males while friends were chasing the girls. She also recalled being teased because of the way she spoke. But by the time Didi reached the then-named St James Secondary School, schoolmates knew she was not one to be messed with, due to a penchant for quick retorts and a sharp tongue.
“I was always fast with my mouth, l was always one who would say something. . .[I] was still young and femme, so while some boys had voices which were deeper than the headmaster’s, yours truly was still high,” she remembers with a laugh.
?Didi started to transition after finishing school – a process made easier by friendships with others in the local LGBT community. For many years, she was a featured cast member of the Plantation Garden Theatre’s dinner and show. She was also a multiple award-winning Best Flag Person on Kadooment Day.
Always big on education, the transwoman broke down the differences between some terms which may have confused many.
“Transgender is simply [that] the gender you identify as, it’s not the gender you were assigned at birth, which is different from a transvestite who is someone that dresses as the opposite sex. Transsexuals go all the way [with sexual reassignment surgery].”
She emphasises that transgender people are different from homosexuals. Therefore, if a man chose to date a transgender woman, that man cannot be considered gay, Didi explained.
Dating is something Didi does from time to time, and admitted that she is currently “talking to someone”.
From where Didi sits, now as a part-time make-up artist at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, she believes that things have become easier for transpeople in Barbados, but hopes that tolerance will continue to grow.
“I hope [Bajans] open their minds and see we are all humans, educate themselves to the differences and the fact that we all have different views and morals, but [show] respect all the way. If you have a problem [doing that], then tolerance is something you can look into.”
Editor’s Note:
In our last edition of the Saturday Sun, we published a story in which a well-known Barbadian, who was born a male was referred to repeatedly as she. While the story was not about Didi Winston’s gender, a large number of people criticised us for the use of the pronoun in reference to a man.
Today’s article speaks in detail to Didi’s life and transition and we expect that, given this detail, even more people will take offence with the use of “she” again.
Across our profession, journalists take their guidance from stylebooks that have been adopted for their particular jurisdiction, like the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, Canadian Press Stylebook and the New York Times Stylebook. Over the years, the Nation Publishing Co. Limited has crafted its own style manual by borrowing from the benchmarks of others and infusing our own cultural perspective.
The issue of gender identity is new to us, and we have chosen to be guided in this instance by the AP manual, which states: “Transgender: Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”
?This, we believe, will for the moment take care of issues such as whether the person has legally changed his or her gender; whether local laws even make provision for a legal gender change; or whether the individual is in transition.