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It was the simplest gesture, but in that instant I felt how trusting and refreshingly open Ghanaian culture can be. We spent our last night in Ghana at Chez Afrique, a huge, roofless restaurant and nightclub.In front of a small dance floor, there was a live band playing highlife music (a jazzy, horn-heavy style that originated in Ghana in the 1920s).Washboard-Abs-No-Face and unsolicited dick pics that most women, unfortunately, receive. Right as a transgender woman (I was born male, but identify and present as female) adds a whole new dimension to digital dating.Since transitioning in I haven’t reacted positively to guys who hit on me in person because I haven’t mastered the art of telling them that we have “the same parts.” For the past three years, Tinder has been my gateway into online dating as a transgender woman.(I once walked into a shop expecting to pay 10 cedis for a highlife CD. I paid 18, and walked away feeling satisfied for about two seconds.) Back in New York at the time, I wouldn’t dare leave my apartment without at least four layers of clothing, but I was comfortable in Accra in a simple sundress all day long. An unmistakable pang of wrongness washed over me as the plane took off at the end of our trip. To this day, I haven’t changed my watch back to Eastern Standard Time from Ghanaian time. Every emotion I felt in my five days in Ghana was completely saturated, like when you leave a tea bag in your mug and let it steep all the way.

My foray into the Ghana’s market bargaining culture can only be described as hilarious and unsuccessful.

There was the time we were driving through Accra one night when I spotted a young boy walking fearlessly among the traffic selling food. He responded by touching his fingers to his lips; he was hungry.

I immediately thought about the young boys who sell fruit snacks on the uptown A train I take to work, and realized that poverty and hustle are universal.

Once you see the stone walls, smell the unique mixture of blood, sweat and metal that still hover over the castle six centuries later, and feel the closeness of the quarters slaves were forced into, you cannot un-see, un-feel, un-smell. There was the group of siblings who asked me to take their photo after crossing the tree canopy bridges at Kakum National Park in Ghana’s Central Region.

One of the younger sisters ran over to peer into my digital lens afterwards, leaning her head against my chest to get a better look.

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