Nishica Gomes's childhood was dominated by fear, i.e. the fear of being spotted as 'different' from the rest of the boys in school. Born and brought up in Mumbai, she was teased, bullied, and beaten up regularly.
"I would go to sleep every night wishing that I would not wake up and face my bullies again. School became the thing I hated the most due to which my studies suffered. The physical scars heal but the mental scars remain," Nishica told The Logical Indian.
Bullied In School
Coming to terms with the trauma of her past life has been a long, drawn-out process for Nishica. "The fear was so real back then, I made all efforts to be one of the boys, and this persona over time became my own perceived reality," she expressed.
By the time she finished school, she had no idea who she was and what she wanted to do, life was directionless and Nishica was just meandering through it.
"I feel that when one has been hurt for so long, one just accepts it as part of life. When one doesn't really have some kind of semblance of their own identity, the life choices and relationship choices made, can be disastrous," she explained.
When Sports Became Turning Point For Her
Towards the end of her college days, Nishica found solace in physical training. She used to work out for 3 to 4 hours a day, play volleyball and go swimming. These activities helped her in improving her physical health, but her mental well-being still took a beating. By the time she started her career, it was common to have panic and anxiety attacks along with depression, though at that point she never knew she was depressed.
"We as a society don't really like talking about the issues we face mentally so for an individual to actually seek help, it's seen as taboo," Nishica said.
She wished to seek mental help earlier than she did. She also found that the more she got involved in sport, the more she was in the moment, which helped her get in touch with herself. She took to learning tennis at the age of 37, represented Goa at the National Masters Games when she was 42 years old, and bagged medals for two successive years. Recently, she earned an AITA certification and turned out to be India's first trans tennis coach.
"It was during this period I did some soul searching and came to terms with my identity, more specifically about my gender. I finally made peace with myself and accepted that I'm a transwoman. I came out to folks who were close to me," she said.
Her Transformation Journey
Nishica believes that the transformation has had a positive as well as a negative effect on some people and affected her relationships drastically, especially her family. She said the longer one takes to discover their truth about themselves, the harder it gets to realise and live that truth but it must be done, sooner or later. She is also going to undergo gender affirmation surgery soon to move closer to her authentic self.
Unfortunately, she said, this has collateral damage and can affect loved ones profoundly. "People should work out on their truth of who you are and what you want to be. It doesn't have to be just about gender identity or sexual orientation, it could be career choices, lifestyle choices or relationships, etc," she pointed out.
Today, Nishica has reached a point in life where she has fewer panic and anxiety attacks but still gets depressed in phases, the healing is slow but feels she is gradually getting there.
She urged people to work on their own physical and mental health and if one cannot handle mental issues, they should not refrain from taking professional help from a mental health practitioner. "At this point, I know who I am and I know my life's goals, i.e. to motivate others to live their lives as authentically as possible," she said, adding that coming out is a process and each individual goes through their own journey in this case.