Society is a funny thing, so is patriarchy. It has always been portrayed that a man is strong, a man is good at sports, a man doesn’t cry, a man should only marry a woman. If a man embraces feminism, he is mocked, ridiculed, abandoned. Anjali Siroya was mocked too.
This is the story of Anjali Siroya, a female soul trapped in a male body. Her journey hasn’t been an easy one, nor has her achievements. However, she came out victorious.
A happy childhood
Anjali was born in an orthodox, religious and conservative Marwadi family. She was formerly known as Ajay and is the second male child of her family.
Anjali’s mother always wished for a daughter. She wanted to have a helping hand. Anjali’s mom was extremely fond of her. During her childhood, Anjali was fearless and loved by all.
“My mother wanted a daughter”, she wrote on her blog – battered me. “My mom always had a healthy connection with me. She used to imagine me as her daughter”.
Anjali was also dearly loved by her brother. She describes her early years to be one of the most memorable times ever.
“I was not born with a silver spoon, but I can say every spoon fed to me was with love”, she writes.
Femininity is universal
As time went on, things started to change. A child is unaware of what it means to be of a particular gender. Anjali was unaware of what being a male or female meant. She had started leaning towards feminism and was oblivious to it.
As a child, she loved to play ‘Ghar Ghar’. She loved her Barbie dolls and wished to be the bride during Ghar Ghar. However, patriarchy had already decided on Anjali’s role. She was expected to behave like a man.
“Being a feminine child, my gestures, my expressions, my desires, my liking, everything was Feminine”, she wrote.
Anjali started to grow scared. She was afraid that she would be mocked and bullied due to her effeminate traits. Patriarchy and society had robbed Anjali of herself. It was after her 12th that she accepted her identity. Anjali believes that femininity exists in everything. There is femininity in a man too. After all that she went through, she had learned to accept herself.
“Even if we look into science, men are not complete. They are XY and women are XX. So, men are incomplete, and women are complete. I believe the X in men and women is femininity. Femininity is not just about women it’s about everyone. Femininity is universal”, she wrote in her blog.
Coming out? No, dragged out
Anjali wasn’t ready to come out yet. Even more, she wanted to stay in the storeroom. She wanted to feel safe.
“For me, coming out was a very long process with several stages, it’s not a one-day task”, she shared.
It was due to a photo that Anjali’s brother’s friend had shown her brother that she was forced into coming out. Furthermore, her brother was extremely homophobic.
Her brother showed the picture to her mom and soon after, Anjali received a call from her mother. It was chaos at home. Due to her brother’s Homophobic nature, it turned physical. Anjali had a tough time convincing her mother about her gender identity. She had to show her various documentaries.
“I don’t have to be a girl to like a guy. I wanted to be a girl to love myself”, said Anjali.
For Anjali, she herself has been the greatest source of support in her life. While her family cousins and friends have always been with her, at the end of the day she had to support herself.
“There have been times when I feel very lonely, I feel very helpless and that time I approach my cousins, my mother and my friends. They are my support system. But the greatest support system has been me”, says Anjali.
Can a guy be abused?
YES. A guy can be abused. Anjali had a rather dear and trusted friend during her childhood. She never guessed that this friend would be a devil and disguise. Anjali had no knowledge of what sex meant. She felt disgusted and did not like it.
“It took years for me to understand this. Gradually I stopped talking to him. You can understand how difficult it would have been for a 9-year guy to take this. Firstly, I was taunted, teased and torched and after that this incident, both shattered me”, she wrote.
However, this wasn’t the last. Anjali was abused not once but thrice. This left her shattered.
“He not only sexually abused me but also blackmailed me for monetary benefits. I never wanted this to be discus or talk about it with anyone because I was sure no one will believe me”, said Anjali. “Society doesn’t accept a man who is sexually abused and that is what he took advantage of. He always knew that I will fulfil all his desire just because I feared that he will reveal this to anyone”.
What broke Anjali further was the distrust and lack of support she faced.
“I have cried many times about everything and how my family did not support me, neither accepted me the way I am”.
A stand for herself
“People used to tease me and make fun of me. Some also tried to take advantage of me”, said Anjali. “But, later on, I realized that if I don’t stand for myself, nothing can change”.
Anjali soon realizes that she had to stand for herself. Despite all the ups and downs, she went on to excel in her academics. However, Anjali hadn’t yet shared her gender identity or sexuality in her college.
Due to her good grades, Anjali was advised to do her engineering. But she later realized that engineering was not her cup of tea. Convincing her family was a battle that she successfully won. Anjali persuaded her parents to accept her decision. Her mother was supportive of her and always supported her.
“My mother told me that my sexuality and my identity is not in my hand, but my career is in my hand. So, choose what you like”.
Anjali went on to do her B.M.M. Anjali wanted to choose a college where she could concentrate on her studies without the worry of being discriminated. She was scared to join a college where heterosexuality was so prominent. She, later, joined the Ruia College.
“After going to the college, I felt very lonely and I wasn’t that confident to open up”, she shares. “I had to see how accepting people around me were about such issues”.
In her second year she came out as a trans person and she wanted to do something for her community.
A journey to success
She soon learned about the beauty pageant arranged by the college. However, she was afraid that the college wouldn’t accept her for the competition as she was a trans person. It took two years for Anjali to gain the courage and take part in the competition.
“I told my friends who were also part of the student council and she told me not to because people are not so open-minded”.
However, Anjali entered for the Rose Queen contest. She was welcomed into with open arms. The competition had four rounds. During one of the rounds, the participants were asked to win as many likes as possible. Since this happened on 6th September, Anjali was busy celebrating the court verdict on 377. Due to this, she couldn’t win many likes. Anjali wrote about her life and transition for the literary round.
Anjali went on to become the first transwomen to be queened the Rose Queen. Furthermore, she went on to win Ms Ruia, Face of Naandi and Mx. Queen of colour positive show.
Success has no end
“For me, I’m as normal as anyone else. But, for the people around me, I was different”.
For Anjali, she is as normal as any of her. Anjali has learned to embrace her feminine side and she teaches us to do the same. She aspires to be a model. She is also into advertising.
Anjali looked up to herself, she was lost too. As a result, there were times when she felt depressed. Suicide was something that constantly crossed her mind.
But Anjali overcame it. She was abused thrice. She succeeded in her journey and has set an example for us. Anjali now identifies herself as a proud trans woman.
She shares with us that our Gender identity and our sexuality isn’t a choice, it is something that we are born with. Anjali is proud of her sexuality. She is exactly who she is meant to be. She is Anjali Siroya.
To know more about her, please visit her blog https://androgynousajay.wordpress.com/