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Socialite of the Year: Itumeleng Mokwatlo Trans Woman Who Lives Boldly – ‘I Come As 1 But I Am 10,000’


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Itumeleng Mokwatlo

Photo: Sne Photography/Supplied

  • Itumeleng Mokwatlo wears his boldness and identity with pride. In a world where she is constantly being made to fit into certain boxes.
  • grow in Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo, living her truth and embracing who she knew she was wasn’t always easy. “I feel placed on purpose. I want them to see, know and understand that they exist, and they must do so without fear.”

Wear your boldness and identity with pride. In a world where we are constantly made to fit into certain boxes, Itumeleng Mokwatlo will not be confined.

Crowned socialite of the year at this year’s 2022 Feather Awards, those who have been around her can attest that her energy fills the room, and her bold pieces make her hard to miss.

identity, self love, transgender
Itumeleng Mokwatlo dressed by Antherline for the AFI 2022 launch party. Photo: Sne Photography/Supplied

READ MORE | Elvis was ‘terrified’ his partner would leave him when he came out as trans; instead he proposed to her

“I’m still finding myself,” she tells us about living boldly and embracing her identity. She is a strategist, makeup aficionado, and content creator, which gave birth to the TumiPowerhouse brand. Itumeleng is a transgender woman who is proud to live her truth.

Growing up in Limpopo, in a town called Ga-Mashashane, living her truth and embracing who she knew she was wasn’t always easy. “There was bullying here and there, but the love I received from home protected me. It was amazing. I grew up surrounded by love,” she adds.

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Itumeleng says that her mother, whom she adores with all her heart, has been an anchor in her life. “My mom has always been respectful of who I am and she has supported me. I never had to ‘come out’.”

In recent years, she’s gotten intentional and loud about who she is.

trans woman, inclusion, identity
Itumeleng Mokwatlo at the 2022 Feather Awards night. Photo: Sne Photography/Supplied

“I had to be honest about my sexual identity. I had to mentally and emotionally let the process take its course,” she explains. The way Itumeleng has presented himself has inspired others who might not have had the courage to accept who they are and live their lives without fear of being judged by society. She says, “I feel high on purpose. I want them to see and know and understand that they exist, and they should do so without fear.”

READ MORE | Mom on why she chooses to hug her gay 12-year-old son: ‘He’s exactly where he belongs’

The fashion enthusiast recently wore a sensational gown to the Feather Awards designed by South African design house Antherline Couture. The mini dress had a long tail that said more than a thousand words. They were images of trans women from the country, and for Itumeleng it was an ode to those who are part of the community and have made great strides in their journey.

“I come in as 1 but I’m 10,000. Today, I wanted you to see the faces of all the trans girls who constantly show up in a world that never stops reminding them that they don’t deserve to exist,” she wrote. Instagram photo in the dress.

trans woman, inclusion, identity
A sensational dress for a woman on a mission to live on purpose. Photo: Sne Photography/Supplied

READ MORE | Shudufhadzo Musida on the journey to embracing self-love: ‘You need to constantly reassure yourself’

“People never talk about how difficult it is to succeed as a black trans body in South Africa across various industries. I have a community of trans and non-binary people who are changing that narrative, and it was important to honor them in the way I wore.

“I wanted to let them know that they are seen and worthy. My bag has the face of Iko Mash [the late socialite from the 90s]who I think took the bitter end of the stick in her bravery to show up as she and I said through the bag, we carry some of the dreams you had, and I hope we’re making you proud,” Itumeleng says.

She says that some of the best days of my life have yet to happen. “I always have to remember that someone’s fate depends on me moving on,” she adds.


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