If I can't be true to myself, I can't be truthful to others Part-1

Story by Anaika

a woman based out of Lucknow,

which briefly highlights her life as a trans-woman and her struggle towards acceptance.

Story written and pieced together by empath writer Epcita Shukla.

Part 1 :

From my early childhood, I remembered how gender roles started to play their game around me. But, I realised quite early that I am not on the right side of this game. The social norms around gender made me uncomfortable, and I was told, over and over again that I am a boy. This created a division, a fight, between what I felt and what I was compelled to do.

If I’d go to a shop, I’d naturally get attracted to the girl’s clothing section, if I were given a choice to play with a car and a barbie, I would always choose the latter and I found it easy to befriend girls, but had my reservations against boys. Although, usually, I remained away from all the children, because I was confused and extremely scared.

I was told that I am a boy and being effeminate is a huge “NO” for me. Slowly, I became aware that men and women are compartmentalised in completely different boxes, and are handed down traits which define how they ought to talk, to express, to behave, etc.

This awareness didn’t hit me quite well. It felt weird to me that there were such strong divisions in mere attributes which dictated to people on how they could express themselves differently through what is called “femininity” and “masculinity”.

I remember when I was young in around eighth grade, my classmates used to tease me a lot and call me gay. It made me very anxious and disturbed. I didn’t understand what exactly it meant so I did what the inquisitive kids did before the age of the internet, I went through an entire dictionary. And by the end of my little research, I started telling myself that I am different because I am gay.

Gradually, my parents started to notice that my behaviour was different from the boys of my age. I would try my mother’s makeup and wear her clothes, and while all of this seemed joyful when I did it as a child, as these patterns continued as I grew, they became extremely worried and concerned. Due to lack of awareness, and the age old conditioning, they grew worried that something was wrong with me.

One of the possible solutions that came to their mind to help me get out of this situation was to send me to pursue engineering and live in a men’s hostel. That way, they thought, I could learn the mannerisms of “masculinity” because I'd be predominantly surrounded by men. But pretending to be a certain way, 24x7 ended up giving me more clarity about my sexuality.

Although college life was slightly different from school, because I did find a few people who accepted me. But, I had also grown used to direct and indirect harassment and the struggle of my identity continued.

But like they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, the silver line of hope in that college was the college counsellor. She was one of the first few people who did not throw judgement at me. She gave me a reference to a psychiatrist in Delhi, who after meeting me, assigned me an interesting task. Completing this task was the last mile I travelled towards my identity.

The psychiatrist advised me to wrap the fabric of my choice around my body, and express myself in the feminine way I like and go to the lanes of Connaught place, crowded with the public from all walks of life, and be who I am, a girl. I pulled together a cheap wig, tee, pants and heels.

And the moment I stepped my foot in public, I felt congruent with my identity. I remember visiting a café that day, where the waiter addressed me as “ma’am” and till date that was the first time I got addressed so, a moment I can never forget in my life.

That day, the battle between what I felt and what I looked like didn’t end, and it still hasn’t, but those moments of freedom, where I walked amongst strangers, with an expression that I desired, made my soul and body reunited for a while, and to say that it felt surreal, is an understatement, but given a chance, I’d love to live that reality again and again.

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