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This South African Teen Went Off In A Poem About Transgender Identity

“What it feels like to be transgender,” according to 19-year-old Lee Mokobe.

June 19, 2015

Lee Mokobe is a 19-year-old from Capetown who started Vocal Revolutionaries, an activist poetry collective. For his accomplishments, Mokobe was invited to be a TED2015 fellow and speaker—the conference's youngest. While addressing a TEDWomen crowd in California, he performed this poem exploring his transgender identity, shifting relationships with family members, and the challenges faced by transgender individuals and the community at large. In the wake of steep violence against trans men and women and higher rates of suicide among transgender Americans, Mokobe's points are especially poignant. Watch the video above, read an excerpt below, and find out more about his life and work via Twitter.

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My mother fears I have named myself after fading things.What do you think?
As she counts the echoes left behind by Mya Hall, Leelah Alcorn, Blake Brockington.
She fears that I’ll die without a whisper,
that I’ll turn into “what a shame” conversations at the bus stop.
She claims I have turned myself into a mausoleum,
that I am a walking casket.

-Lee Mokobe

This South African Teen Went Off In A Poem About Transgender Identity