I was born into this unenlightened world with an identity people refused to acknowledge. Kindergarten years flew by with me being identified as a girl but Oh! The joys I felt wearing my counter gender’s clothes. I detested wearing frocks, skirts or having long hair.
Walking into primary school at the tender age of seven, I had started sporting short hair, much to the dislike of my mother, but still had to draw on female clothing. My chest elated at the thought of being a boy but my mind was equally confused on who I was. At school, I was never comfortable in going to the girl’s washroom but had to nevertheless because I still wasn’t sure of my identity and the teachers did not allow me to visit the boy’s washroom.
I belonged to an upper caste, conservative family. Our roots went back to a long line of highly religious people and were followers of Baba Hariram. By the age of ten, I showed signs of gender dysphoria but my family still kept on avoiding the topic. I was a confident homo sapiens since childhood but the anxiety of not being able to be identified as a boy to myself and humanity pulled down my self-confidence.
Middle school was the one of the toughest phases of my life as that is when we hit puberty and hormonal changes occur in our body. Kids at school discussed at lengths about the “perfect body” and I was bullied for being confused about my identity. I was called horrible names, and the thought of it now sends chills down my spine. I don’t blame my classmates though because the only reason they behaved that way was the alienation of the concept of the existence of a third gender. It was you, society, who impressed on young minds, the concept of binary genders. I started watching YouTube videos to understand my symptoms and emotional distress.
By the age of thirteen, I was pretty sure of the fact that I did not identify myself as a part of the binary gender system. But the very thought of expressing it out loud to my deeply religious parents gave me nightmares. My parents and my close relatives demonised the abstraction of the third gender. It is society, whom I blame for me being scared to say it out loud.
At age fifteen, I had finally mustered up enough courage to speak about it with my parents. That night, I walked into the dining room timorous. Sitting down on the table, I said, “Maa and Baba, I need to talk to you about something.” Their reaction to the news was horrifying. My father at the first instance thought that I must have been influenced by someone at school and that I should have stayed away from atheist elements and my mother started weeping with the thought of the ‘’demon’’ possessing me. That night, after dinner, I was dragged to the ashram of Baba Hariram. I was pulled out of school for a month for ‘’medical reasons’’.
On our way, I wondered how the thought of something new or extraordinary scared the common. I condemn society for scaring people about ideas that are uncommon to the common world.
Stepping out of the car, a majestic bungalow stood in front of me, the board read ‘’Baba Hariram’’. As we walked through the halls of the bungalow, I felt chills run down my spine. The person we were about to visit always made me feel uncomfortable. ‘’Namaste beta, come in’’, the terrifying voice pulled me out of my trance. As we sat down in front of him, my parents went on to explain at lengths on how I wanted to be boy and had even cut my hair short for that matter. He nodded as if he understood my issue and closed his eyes for a minute or so. When his cold eyes opened, staring deep into my eyes with a feeling I could not recognize but felt apprehensive, he said that I needed to left at the ashram for a week to undergo a therapy. I was horrified and started wailing loudly. I could not stay in a place unknown to me. I profusely requested my parents to not leave me here but they did not hear me out. That was the day, my life turned into a horrifying mess, a mess no child should ever have to face in their lives. I was told to start living in the ashram from the next morning onwards.
The next morning, as I walked in with tear stained cheeks, I was convinced that something wrong was about to happen. The morning went by with me meditating, then came the lunch time where I was dragged into a room away from other children and beaten black and blue. They tied a cloth on my mouth to prevent my screams to reach out. As they kept on beating me, they hurled expletives. I was not given lunch that day. In the evening, I was made to run barefoot in the cold, chilly weather. At night, I was given a plate of rice with some dal, a quantity that could never fill a human stomach. At the end of the day, I thought that must be enough of torture to chase off the ‘’demon’’ in me but little did I know that the most sickening part of it was still left. At around midnight, I heard my room’s door open and Baba Hariram entered, with a wicked gleam in his eyes. That night, I was physically abused once again.
The next six days went past with the same routine being followed every day. I was abused for a week to wade off the ‘’devil’’. At the end of the week, my parents came to pick me up but I was no longer that happy child. I was emotionally and physically wrecked. I felt no emotions on my way back home. I could not eat my favourite meal my mother prepared to welcome home her ‘’daughter’’. I tried telling my parents but it went to deaf ears.
One day, the newspaper had news of some activist who had recently rescued a person of the non-binary gender system from being exploited. That afternoon, I googled her name and got her email address. I wrote a lengthy mail to her, seeking help at the earliest. I had no hope that she would reply but still kept on typing out an email to her. As I pressed send, somewhere deep within, I knew that she would rescue me out of my disastrous life. That day, after dinner, I got a mail notification. I read the mail and my heart was filled with jubilance. It was the first day in so long , that I could see a ray of hope in my dark life. The mail read that she would arrive at my doorstep with the police, in the morning at nine and also asked for my address. I quickly typed out a response email and sent her my address. For once, I slept peacefully that night.
Next morning at nine sharp, I heard the doorbell ringing. On my doorstep was that activist, Ritika Sinha, along with the police who had an arrest warrant against Baba Hariram and a detention warrant for my parents. My heart did not go out for my parents, who kept cursing me while they were being taken away.
Ms. Sinha took me under her custody through legal procedures and provided me with shelter, education and care that I never received from my parents. She was that guardian angel who supported me to become the confident human I was once. She encouraged me to participate at various events. She took me to a doctor who then prescribed me a hormone therapy, hysterectomy and phalloplasty.
By the age of twenty-three, I had gained good education and was a part of various committees and associations for various social purposes. I was also appointed as a secretary of the manager of an electronics company.
I now had a purpose in my life. I, now, sensed a feeling of elation that I had missed all along my childhood years. I never heard from my parents since that day and they are the last people I would like to contact.
Yes, I am a confident, successful transgender. Oops, I just said it out loud but I am not scared of society anymore. The ruthless society shunned me, pulled me down all thorough the early years of my life. It instilled a fear in the hearts of many humans like me for the sole rationale to alienate the different. But not anymore, it’s time we show how strong we are.
So, my dear, I don’t give a damn about what you say or do. I’ll live my life, my way.