“My gender identity is that of a transgender. I sexually identify as a heterosexual woman”
These are the words Shraeyansh greets me with, mincing no words as I ask her about her identity.
In an exclusive interview with FSOG, the 18-year old art student from Udaipur, Rajasthan came out to the world as a transgender woman.
“I always felt like I was a female born in a male body.”
Confused and helpless, she confided in her sister who didn’t know what to do herself.
“She thought it was because I spent a major chunk of my time with girls and hung out with them that I was more feminine and less like other boys my age.”
However, the nagging reminder of being trapped in the wrong body was here to stay.
“When I continued to feel the same way, I started telling more of my cousins about it. Contrary to how I thought they would react, they accepted me openly and told me how much they loved me and that they would always support me no matter what. I remember feeling absolutely blessed to have them in my life.”
Although she has all of her cousins’ unconditional support, Shraeyansh feels like it will be a task to garner support from her parents and friends.
“Where I’m from, everyone is still very orthodox and conservative. My parents will never accept me, mostly because they’re too scared of what people will say about it. They don’t know about it yet, but even my feminine behaviour is a constant source of embarrassment to them. Where my friends are concerned, I can say that they won’t beat me up if they come to know, but they wouldn’t want to associate with me any longer.”
Life has been hard on Shraeyansh. With the lack of support from her parents and friends, she was constantly bullied for being “too girly” all through her school years, a form of slow torture that still continues in her college days.
“I was always called names, picked on and bullied because of the way I behaved. It didn’t stop when I started college. I go to college every day, making sure that my eyes are glued to my phone and that I do not look up for even a second or catch somebody’s eye, or else they will surely bully me. Even when I go out with my sisters, people look at me like I’m an alien and laugh at me loudly.”
“At weddings, I’m expected to dress and behave like a boy, stay with the boys. I wonder if a girl my age was asked to dress and behave like a boy, talk only to them, what her reaction would be. I’m constantly scrutinised and laughed at at such outings. This has made me hate going out. I want to shut myself up in a room, away from them. I often think of killing myself because I feel like that will put an end to this”
The last sentence leaves me startled, wondering about the effect a casually spoken word or giggle can have on someone. People do not think before uttering hurtful words and jeering at people without knowing none of the struggle they have to face every single second of their lives. I wonder what I can say to Shraeyansh to be able to make it slightly better, when she puts my doubts to rest.
“I’ve decided though, I’m going to get surgery done. I don’t know how I’ll get the money or where I’ll get it done from but I’m going to go through with it and once I’m no longer a male, biologically or socially, I’m also going to change my name”, she says, and in that moment, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.