When all children of my age were enjoying their childhood, I was dealing with stress and depression. For years, I felt that there was nothing I could do about how different I felt.
I gradually realized my gender dysphoria and how my brain functioned very differently from others of the same sex. In all likelihood, it was biological, caused during fetal formation by little more than a slightly ‘off’ series of hormonal development. My mind is that of a girl’s, but in the body of a boy, and it has been this way for the entirety of my existence, regardless of how I’ve been raised or how my worldly experiences have influenced me.
But I thought that the discrimination towards transgender people was due to lack of education – when a trans person ‘comes out’ at an early age, they face rejection from their own family and will be thrown out of the education system. So I decided to graduate before ‘coming out’ and lived in a closet until I completed my graduation. I went on to pursue education in the field of medicine in order to understand myself better. Amidst all the stress and depression (which was always something pulling me from behind), pain, sexual harassment and bullying – schooling was a difficult phase. Because of which I could only get into a para-medical course, B.Pharm
Meanwhile, I realized that being a transgender person is not a habit you can break off, or a mindset you can force your way out of, or something you can treat with psychotherapy/drugs. It is a genetic construction that will never, ever change.
This was not a choice. This is me allowing myself to be who I am. A simple way to explain what me being a transgender woman means is to say that I identify as a woman, but it’s so much more than that. I don’t just identify as a woman, I am a woman. I have felt this way every day of my life, all the way back to my earliest childhood memories.
After my graduation I felt I should do something in return for my family before ‘coming out’ to them. I didn’t want to have regrets, in case they avoid me later. Thus I worked hard and fulfilled all my family commitments.
I finally came to the understanding that I could no longer continue living the lie I had lived for the last 21 years. I wasn’t being honest to myself or to those around me. I wasn’t happy at all. I tried ending my life five times but all in vain.
Many people who were close to me suggested continuing to live my life the same way – as a man. But after understanding myself, I felt that I had to do something to change the image of trans people in the society.
Many trans people end their lives due to social stigma and poor understanding of gender dysphoria and I felt it’s hard for people to understand all this unless they have been in a similar situation.
So I made the decision to transition and stop pretending to be something/someone I’m not. It was not simply about clothing or a name, but an innate sense of myself and who I am.
I wanted to begin living my life the way I should be living it, as the real me. I also realized how important it was to get educated as that would help me to lead a dignified life. So I pursued my post graduation, M.Pharm in Pharmacology.
After coming out, as expected my parents didn’t accept me but surprisingly, the reaction from this generation was quite understanding and supportive. I felt lucky to be born in this generation.
But this happiness didn’t continue for long. After my PG, I was looking for a job opportunity as a transgender, which is when I realized that all the support that people promised were only in the form of words.
Once I started attending interviews and walk-ins, I was able to clear until the final technical rounds. However once they found out about my gender, their response was “We are so happy with your performance in the interview rounds. However we will discuss with our team and call you back”. I never got a call back. Another organization went one step beyond considering me and stated that they were happy to take me in if I was done with the bottom surgery as a part of their ‘company policy’ to hire transgender people. I was thinking what an aesthetic surgery had to do with my professional career. Even though I promised them that I would get my surgery done when I was financially stable, they kept insisting on it.
Of course, most trans people’s dream will be to get such a surgery done. Being a single transwoman, gender reaffirmation surgery is a complete rebirth procedure which requires extensive post-operative care, involving complications and a lot of expenses. So a trans woman has to be ready to face all that without family support. It’s very sad, however, that society expects surgery to accept someone as a trans woman.
I really feel like I have become a second-class citizen in the eyes of many people. We too are human just like everyone else but are born this way; there is no point in forcing us to undergo procedures in order to accept us as a human being. It clearly shows people’s poor understanding of gender orientation. But this will not stop me.
My intention is to bring some change in the society by setting an example that even a transgender can lead a dignified life, if basic support and education is provided.
And again this is not by choice. This is what I am and I want to be true to myself. I’m going to live it the way I deserve to live it. “Live and let Live”.
*The article has been written by Anannya. Edited for language and brevity by Nanditha.*