If I can't be true to myself, I can't be truthful to others Part-2
Story by Anaika
Being born as a woman in a man’s body and convincing your primary caretakers, in my case, my parents about the issues of trans-community seemed like running around in circles. And I don’t entirely blame them. They thought they were trying to save me, and help me. My parents sympathised with me when they saw how the society around them, including our own relatives talks about the queer community, and they got extremely scared. To even come in terms with one’s own queerness, especially in an Indian household, is a fight in itself.
The things at my home remained melancholic. When I tried to explain to my parents about my gender identity and expressed my true choice of expression, they grew extremely troubled. My mom started crying, and repeatedly said, “Hum kisi ko muh dikhane layak nahi rahe jayenge!” (we won’t be able to show our faces to anyone!). My parents would get emotional and ask me to at least try to behave like a man, adopt some “masculine” traits. The distinction between sex, the biological attributes of a person, and gender, the socially constructed roles of women, men, and gender diverse people, was not easy for them to understand.
Soon after I graduated, I got placed, and I thought that things would now change for the better, but the environment at the office also remained toxic. I shifted my job, yet the working conditions remained toxic. Amidst working with transphobic people and battling with my own body dysphoria, on one busy day, I got a call from my mother. She was crying on the phone and asked me to come back home, as they
They called me back and asked me to visit a famous mental health hospital for treatment. They told me that they are trying to help me. I agreed to go, because I believed that after exhausting all options, my parents would just be left with acceptance.
I also thought that probably the doctors at the hospital would understand about my gender identity issues and explain my parents about the same. However, the counsellors were extremely transphobic and advised me to do yoga, and for the sake of my parents, I actually complied.
Then one day, I met this lady in her early 50s, who was also interning at the hospital. When she learnt of my “problem”, she denied it being a problem at all. She was the only one in the entire hospital who called me by my correct pronouns and never misgendered me. This lady, Mrs. Gurpreet Kaur Shukla, became my silver lining in yet another dark cloud of my life. She didn’t understand all the nuances of what I live through, but she attempted to understand, and that made all the difference.
I decided that even if I couldn’t convince my parents or relatives, that I am going to work on completely accepting myself first. And from then, I started my journey towards social transitioning. My parents still don’t accept me. My mother and I share a rocky relationship, and my father’s emotions for me keep fluctuating between his love for me and the fear of the favourite question of the Indian households, “log kya kahenge?” (what will people say?).
But as I found a silver lining in other dark clouds of my life, I found one here too. The place where I work currently has conducive working conditions and an inclusive environment. I am judged on my work, and not my gender identity.
I attempt to publicly come out so through my story here, unfiltered, agonising but true. I still hold a belief that my parents, who I know do love me, and even I love, just accept me as for who I am.
I know I have learnt to completely accept myself. If I can’t be true to myself, I can’t be truthful to others. And my truth is, I was, I am and I always will be a woman and I am proud of it.