a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender
25 year-old Aryan, a lawyer, works towards legal empowerment of the LGBTQIA community with Multiple Action Research Group (MARG). As a researcher, social and community activist, he helps to spread awareness about LGBTQIA legal rights and the recent NALSA judgement, its implications, functioning and how it affect the transgender community.
At present, he’s working on a petition for gender neutral laws in India and also crusading to change the generally accepted definition of rape to recognise all kinds of violence.
A trans man, Aryan is an empowered and informed individual today who lives life on his own terms and also works towards making such a life possible for his peers. However, it wasn’t always this way. Life hasn’t been easy for the law graduate from Rizvi Law College, Mumbai.
Born a girl, Aryan realised at the age of six that he had been born in the wrong body and identified as a boy. He would get agitated whenever anyone referred to him as a girl and treated him that way. A talented speed skater as a child, he’d win all the regional and zonal competitions but always had to compete in the women’s category. He believed in his rights even then, so much so that when he got selected for the international games, he chose not to participate in the women’s category any longer and let go of the chance.
At the age of 6, he had to face another hard time as his parents got divorced. When, after a phase of staying with relatives, he moved back in with his father, everyone assumed he was going through a phase and was just a “tomboy”. They thought he would get over it. However, having studied psychology, his stepmother observed his behavioural pattern, likes and dislikes closely and made note of them.
At 16, she introduced him to the concept of “transgender”. To further acquaint and familiarise him with the concept, they researched together, watched videos and several other media. This new found knowledge comforted Aryan and showed him there was a way. She also introduced this concept to Aryan’s father and the rest of his family, who although reluctant at first, came to accept him eventually. In fact, even his grandfather accepted him with open arms.
The acceptance and love of his family rid Aryan’s mind of all qualms, as is the case with most LGBTQIA people who are fortunate enough to have support from their family.
However, he still had to undergo several physical changes as a girl. Having dealt with menstruation, harassment and bullying from several classmates he considered “friends”, Aryan finally transitioned at the legal age of 18 by undergoing two procedures, namely mastectomy and hysterectomy. With a new found outlook towards life, he approached Delhi University to pursue a degree in Sociology honors. However, due to the regressive mindset of people, he was not given admission in the college and was made fun of.
Once again, his stepmother stood up for him and told the authorities she wouldn’t accept any hostility and disrespect for her innocent child. Finally, at the age of 19, he got admitted to Rizvi law college, Mumbai where he was happily accepted and found friends he could share his life story with. Never one to back down or hide the truth about his identity, he was further supported by their acceptance. It gave him the confidence to proudly own his identity of a trans man.
The experience of staying by himself and dealing with everything life sent his way strengthened him to face the society that can often be extremely hostile towards LGBTQIA people. Today, he works as an activist and educator, trying to acquaint his peers with their rights and making the society and the nation more inclusive and accepting.
Aryan has sure come a long way, but what can clearly be seen from his story is the importance of family support and acceptance for anyone from the LGBTQIA community. He regards his stepmother as his pillar of support and guardian angel, who brought him in touch with his true self and ensured everyone accepted him for who he really was. If only every parent, friend and relative of LGTBQIA people looked at them this way, perhaps we would be much closer to making India a more inclusive place to live in.