Jide Smith is a Nigerian gay man who recently opened a crowdfunding account to source for £400,000 for his operation to transition into a woman which has been his dream. Jide who now wishes to be known as Malaysia Banks, says he is also battling with HIV after he got infected by his Jamaican boyfriend in London when he was a teenager. Read what he wrote below…
Hi I am Malaysia Bank but known to be born as Jide Smith in the United kingdom in the 80’s and grew up as a young gay boy in my home country Nigeria. Having fought through numerous opportunistic infections from my late HIV diagnosis to AIDS , I now realise the great world ahead of me, to support and be of guidance to those who need to overcome the stigma in their minds about the virus and other important life issues especially keeping the mind focused and healthy.
We all as humanity are there to assist one another and my priorities right now are working towards a healthy recovery and also a successful transition which is very expensive and not available or heard of in my country Nigeria that I love so much and would like to be accepted if possible, and also towards that with a healthy body and soul and definitely sticking to my retrovirus medication regime and embarking on the hormonal therapy and necessary operations.
I contacted the virus in the early 2000’s in the United Kingdom as a homosexual male in my teens! I remember clubbing at heaven night club every Wednesdays as that was the day I would like to show of my dance steps and be happy and be accepted and be among like minds. Obviously sneaking out of the family home at Wilsdeen green London NW3. I would sneak out through the bathroom window, funny yeah! And then walk my way down to the floor and get the jubilee line. I couldn’t wait to hear “the next stop is charing cross” Anxiously waiting and happy to be clubbing in a scene where I knew I belonged and could be myself for as long as I remember. I wasn’t sexually active all through my high school and I’m sure class mates would testify to my feminity. I was a regular on the London gay scene and met few transgender which as of then I couldn’t figure out why as I was raised up in an African background . I was infected in 2002 to be accurate by a Jamaican who I fell in love with.
He like my dance and fashion sense and I was comfortable in his nice flat. We had unprotected sex few times and also used protections as well. The gay scene is quite small or was quite small then, and it was a close circle especially to the black African and Caribbean community. I Saw the whole drag performances and I tried it few times. Obviously closeted and changing in the public toilets just outside Charing Cross. A friend of mine had got the low down on his HIV status and told me to be careful. I obviously thought oh damn! I am HIV positive. Going for the test was the worst as a teen and panicking and all sorts of fear issues and back then having the virus was the worst thing you could tell an African parent.
I eventually found his medications in his drawers just as my best friend Melvin now Melanie a transgender in the United kingdom had told me to search through. We took the medications and went straight to an NHS hospital and asked the nurse at the counter what the drug was for. We couldn’t ask google then as the internet age was quite new. The nurse came back with what I would call a medical dictionary and I cant forget Melanie searching through the pages and finding page 268 missing. I would always remember that number definitely not the name of the drug! She obviously knew what it was and tore it of. I wouldn’t blame her as we hadn’t gone through the proper counciling as at then and also she must have been protecting us from the news.
Michael his name then in his late 20s was the only guy I dated till this date having contacting him and he denied. I asked for both of us to go for a test as he was much older but he didn’t. That was the end of that relationship and then the hunting thoughts in my mind saying constantly “you are HIV positive” I grew up in nice environment and we were opportune to study in the United Kingdom and travel the world and I had the best of childhood. That I cannot deny! I remember family time and I cherish every single memory I had with my mum and brothers and sisters and my off and on relationship with my Dad. They suspected but I had to conform coming from an African background I would never even mention being homosexual or even admit as at then. My brothers were OK, having caught listening to me on conversations on the family home BT landline. The topic was never brought up and quite forbidden in my family.
Years and years past with that heavy burden on my mind that i might have been infected and guilty for not checking my status on time, obviously scared. Once a while I go to the local pharmacy’s and get the home test kits which weren’t accurate at all. It was a burden to my poor confused and developing transexual mind. I know well who I am and who I want to be and that was way more bigger than HIV/AIDS.
Then I took the test in 2015 when it was a little bit late. Searching through the net and looking for signs and symptoms of the virus and I’m sure some of you can relate. I remember the doctor asking me if I believed in miracles and I was numb for a minute but deep down , I knew I did and I knew I had to. Even if the results had been positive I was still hopeful and determined. It came back positive with good and bad news, with the good news being I had no other infections, no STD no hepetatis and the bad news being positive result and AIDS confirmation with a CD4 count of 13. I had to then fight through the wasting syndrome. I had to fight all that off and get ready for the big world ahead. The second phase was recovering and still remaining focused because, thinking the virus would have killed me but death is enivitable.
I am Nigerian born in the UK in 80s but after 1985 so I don’t quality for citizenship. I attended Bosworth tutorial college in Northamptonshire where I did my A levels and also Holborn college University of Wales where I had my bachelor’s in business administration all funded by my family. I love my country and family so dearly but this is my one life and my once chance to finally live.
We lack certain advance HIV/AIDS medications and hormonal therapy which I have searched for all over.
No one here knows nothing, not mentioning the stigma and lack of laws that protect people like me! It’s 14 years imprisonment for being gay! In Nigeria and then I am a “trangersgendering” that would be the death penalty in some states in my country. I wish I would be a role model and change things positively helping and advicing others who face similar challenges. I am scared of not living having surviving my ordeal I have chosen to fully embark on my transition. I know I would hurt and offend a lot of hearts, families and friends. But its the path chosen by my destiny. Why should a transgender be considered Insane? Or a taboo?
We tattoo our skins, why can’t we make adjustments to the bodies we were born in? If not happy with it. I’m religious and putting GOD aside this! For example if i had a nail fungal infection and thought it was best to were nail polish, or being bald and wearing a wig or tupe. Am I not just taking care of the only thing I am in constantly from birth to death. Which is my body, my temple and gateway to my spiritual life. Its the best way for me to express my presence here on Earth. It’s the face I see in the mirror, my body is my best friend and worst enemy at the same time if I don’t come to terms with it’s true projection and wellbeing.
I have grown to love and cherish the skin I’m in and been in touch with that which is within and to show the world the freedom in self awareness and self realization.
I don’t have the power to judge, and I don’t think anyone has that power over me. I am still improving , remaining focused. I love dancing and listening to music. I have a passion for fashion and a good scenes of style. I am now facing kaposa which is a skin cancer that’s improves as the immune system gets better.
I need your support to survive, to raise funds and be able to have medical treatment also very important seeking British immigration lawyer consultation on name changing and a new passport as I am not sure that would be available here. Also funds towards medical consultation and information’s on hormonal therapy and HIV/AIDS. Funding towards my transitional operation to finally becoming a woman.
Yours truly, faithfully, and sincerely