I have always known that there is something 'off' with me, in the sense of how I feel about myself and how other people view me. The conflict has always manifested into a feeling that I am an outcast. The first incident that I remember was when I was at my grandmother's place. My grandfather had a garment shop for children, and my mother took me to buy clothes from the shop. I literally rolled on the floor because I saw this one really pretty frock, and I wanted to have that, whereas my parents did not agree with that.
Eventually, they had to get me that. At the age of five years, I would ask people to address me as a girl because that is what I felt I was. When I did that, I used to get strange reactions, or sometimes people would tease me. The little me never understood why people were not able to understand me. Soon, I began feeling that whatever I felt about myself was incorrect for society. So I began giving in to their notion of me and starting trying to behave the way they wanted me to.
Since the beginning, I was effeminate, and since a very young age, I was training for Kathak, and that made me even more graceful. The terrifying part was that I studied in an all-boys school. Those were very hard days. As a young child, I used to dream of settling in lands far away from our country where nobody knows me so that I can get my operation done. I wanted to be treated and addressed as a girl by everyone. It took a lot of time for me to come to terms with it. For the longest time, I was in denial because of how people treated me. I used to think that I cannot be this way, and people would look at me.
Bullying Faced In School
In school, I was bullied throughout, from Class 1 to Class 12. It was not just the students, even teachers, sports coaches and the cleaning staff; everyone treated me as a laughing stock. This was when I was still in conflict with myself. They would call me names and insensitive slurs for no reason at all. My school life was pathetic because of all the harassment. The only thing that kept me going during my school was dance and my academics.
During the lockdown, my gender dysphoria got worse. I had to be alone with my company all day long, and I had nothing else to think about. It would eat me alive. There have been so many times that I would just sit in front of the mirror and cry for hours at a stretch because I could not live with myself. I have been at the lowest point in my life during this quarantine. My mother saw how miserable I was; I would log into my classes and sleep all day long. I would get panic attacks and take anti-depressants. One day I decided that I cannot do this to myself. One reason was that I was not happy with the way people look at me and treat me. I thought that if I decide to accept myself, people might look at me in a different way and treat me better.
Coming Out Of The Closet
I came out in three stages, first as gay, then non-binary and then, trans. I guess I was just trying to convince myself that I had to live like this in the first two stages. It was a half-truth and half-lie because I wanted to make things easier to accept. When I came out as gay and non-binary, I wanted to feel liberated, but somehow that did not happen. I felt good for a temporary period, but when that external validation would fade away, I felt trapped again. I came out officially as a trans woman in August 2020, and that felt like such a release of weight that I was carrying. In my entire life, I have not cried the way I cried that day.
I will not say that after coming out, things have been a smooth sail, and everyone is kind. However, things are definitely better than how they used to be back then. My father and grandfather have accepted me for who I am, whereas my mother was a bit confused about everything. I sat her down and explained to her what I was going through, and she had seen me struggle with myself at home previously, so it was not difficult for her to understand where I was coming from. I never had siblings, so I have always been very open with my mother. For a while, we did not talk, and she was struggling to accept a change that hit her like a wave. She faced taunts and comments from people because of me, and she thought that I would have to experience it for the rest of my life. She was protective of me by trying to not be open about it. It's a journey for her and me and will take time to feel 'okay and normal'.
Therapy And Transition
Personally, I have to confront a new challenge every single day. I have started my therapy and am trying to be better. I am in college now, so I came out to my professors when I came out to the rest of the world on social media. There was no hesitancy from the professors or my classmates to accept me. They were welcoming to my change and left it at my discretion to decide what I wanted from life and how I wanted to live.
For my transition and therapy, I have been lucky enough to have found people who could understand what I was going through. I had spoken to a number of trans women who have been a big support for me. Before coming out, I used to desperately want to get out of the country for my career and life. But now that I am open about my gender and sexuality, I really want to stay back in India because I feel that the system is so corrupt here that I want to stay here itself. I am concerned about how my career arc is going to look like and if people would accept me for who I am.
I feel that if a person discloses that they are trans, it is slightly harder for them to bag the job. Slowly and steadily, things are changing, but they are still bad as of now. I feel that some sort of privilege and the right education for trans people really helps you make a career of your choice. Some individuals who are not so privileged might find it more difficult to explore new opportunities.
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