Voice Of The Community: A Transgender Woman Reaching Out To Thailand

Voice Of The Community: A Transgender Woman Reaching Out To Thailand

Hi, I am Sonal. I am 33 years old and I work in a corporate company at Ahmedabad. And I identify myself as a Trans Woman even though I have not even begun Hormone therapy. I had just started my psychiatric sessions in September to know myself better. And I have recently begun to go into the public without hiding myself.

My childhood was a confusing one. As a child, I would love to spend time alone and would play with my toys. However, due to social norms, I was forced to play with boys even though I always wanted to play with girls. I stayed away from it all since someone or the other would always scold me about it. But I did love playing cricket a lot. I think the society here is extremely regressive.

Trans children India
Image Courtesy: Al Jazeera

Dressing Up And Childhood

The one thing I loved about my childhood was wearing my sister’s dresses. Whenever they bought new clothes, I would be the first one to try it. But as I grew up around the age of 7 or 8 years I had to stop doing that. My mom told me that these clothes were not for boys. But I always felt like those were my clothes. So I used to try them out whenever I had a chance.

I was not like other boys and I was not tough or masculine. I was soft. But as I entered adulthood, I had to build a false image of myself to stop the bullies. 

When I was 10 or 11 years old  I realised that I feel like a woman.

I wanted to be a woman. Watching a 90s actress and model called Deepsikha on TV, I knew this is what I wanted to be. This is what I want to look like. I realised that this is me. I began to feel like a girl and often fantasized myself as one. Whenever I had a chance, I would dress-up and look at myself in the mirror.

I belonged to a middle-class family and back in those days, we lived in a small town. So things like the computer and the internet were not something that I could access. In 2007 I got my own computer and internet. So I started to search. I always thought I am gay so I registered myself on a gay dating website. It was called Gaydia. And I then started chatting with guys.

Venturing Into The Internet

I met a guy online and chatted for a bit. We then planned to meet. He asked me what I wanted to do and I told him I would like to be a girl. He told me that I am a crossdresser and he doesn’t want to meet me because of that. Until then I was unaware of the term crossdresser.

I was heartbroken because I could not meet him. But I am thankful to him because he introduced me to the word. Then, I began searching about crossdressing and Gender Regiment Surgery. I bought my first wig after few days. Thereafter I also bought a couple of dresses and eventually, cosmetics. I even bought myself a saree. Now that I am financially independent and live alone (even though my family lives close to my city) I have a whole wardrobe.

The journey that began with Gaydia has led me to be on every social and dating platform. And I have met so many guys, transgenders, and crossdressers on these platforms in the past years. 

Trans in India
Image Courtesy: South China Morning Post

But I did not have peace of mind because I was not sure about my sexuality.

I always thought this is a phase and it will pass once I get married. But when a marriage proposal came last year and it was almost a yes from my family I started panicking. I went into a kind of depression and stopped talking to my family. I never had any interest in girls or women.

Everything was so weird for me. I then went to a therapist and I started realising that it is not a phase. And I am who I am. I spoke to my family and told them I am not going to marry. They are still coming to terms with it. After all of this, my therapist suggested I should go out. So I marched in the Delhi Pride 2019 as a lady for the first time. And since then I have done it a couple more times. I attend LGBTQ+ parties as a woman. 

I now want to attend the Mumbai Pride. Thanks to these associations I have met so many beautiful souls who have accepted me as I am. Now, I plan to shift to Mumbai or Delhi or any city which is more trans-friendly.  And not as regressive as Ahmedabad. 

What Being Trans Means To Me

Biologically transitioning myself is a necessity for me. It would help me be who I am. The trauma of being in a body that I don’t identify with is just unbearable. But as my doctor pointed out, I have to give myself some time. I have to go out as I am as regularly as I can. 

I learned about this when I was in high school. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I read an article in a magazine about a person who changed his gender. This was my first learning about it. After 2007 I came to know about the details of the procedure through the internet.

The surgery would cost me about 15 to 20 lakh.

This is including all cosmetic surgery. The surgery is a complex one. I know that the hormones could make a person depressed and that the post-recovery is very painful.

Hormones and supplements are available in most places. And you can get it with a doctor’s prescription. Once I consult an endocrinologist, which I will do as soon as my psychiatric sessions are over, I will be able to learn more about the medicines specifically. I want to come out to my family before I get to it. 

There are not many doctors in India and they are not very easy to access either. I know a few people who have gone through surgery in Delhi. But I honestly would prefer Thailand.

Shed The Stigma

Here is what I hope for India and its inclusivity prospects for the LGBT+ community. First of all, society should accept LGBTQ+ individuals and shed away the stigma. Marriage and adoption laws can really help increase equality.

Secondly, corporate companies and many other firms are now doing a lot of things to make the workspace more inclusive. Which must be done more companies now. Whether it is by providing equal chances to a job for the community or making laws that keep people from harassing or treating the LGBTQ+ individuals badly. The Keshav Suri Foundation and companies like Pride Circles are known for their inclusivity.

Thirdly, support Groups always help in times of depression and loneliness. I could not talk about my sexuality and gender to anyone (except online) due to the stigma and fear of society. I lost so many years of mine because of the lack of support. Only now am I coming out and finding people to talk to. And that is precious.

Trans women India
Image Courtesy: Human Rights Watch

I think if I lived in a more LGBTQ+-friendly country, things would have definitely been better for me.

I really want the Transgender Protection Bill 2019 to be amended as per the NALSA judgment. If I could wish changes in LGBTQ+ laws in India, I would also want the Surrogacy law to change. It should be altered to allow LGBTQ+ people to opt for surrogacy. Why shouldn’t gay or lesbian individuals have their kids? Even the adoption laws must be more LGBTQ+ friendly. Another change I would want is the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

The stigma in India is crazy. People barely understand anything about the trans community. Most of them feel like it is a disease. And this is not limited to the trans community but for the entire LGBTQ+ community. I meet so many people like this all the time. People don’t understand the difference between gender and sexuality. Even on dating apps, most guys think all trans individuals are prostitutes. I get a lot of messages asking me how much I charge and it is extremely rude. 

Education Equals Upliftment

I think education can help uplift the community. A self-independent person can fight society. And to become self-independent one has to be educated. Moreover, many trans individuals suffer because they are unable to understand themselves. Since most of them have to leave home because their family doesn’t accepted them, they drop out of school.

I would love to help the community members to get a good education and a good job. So that we can all live a life of our choosing. I would love to fight for the constitutional and legal rights that affect the community. And as a member of the trans community who I consider my family. I know their pain. I understand it. And as someone with the privilege of a job, money, and education, I really hope to be of use to my community.

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