My name is Kris Chudawala and I’m a 23 year old from Mumbai, India. Although I’m an artist and editor, a lot of my work revolves around Trans Rights activism and Mental Health Advocacy.
I always knew I was different, as a neurodivergent person. But in terms of a specific memory, I remember when I was around 12 yrs old, and my friends would talk about boys in a certain way. I was embarrassed by the fact that I was able to only see women in that way. And I didn’t understand the fuss about boyfriends. I’d definitely call that moment a queer awakening.
Coming in terms with one’s sexuality is a journey I believe. And the only way to manage it is to give it time. I find myself making new realizations about myself and also coming out to new people everyday. In that case, being in peace with your queerness is what I’d advocate. And that needs time. As we grow and mature and learn more about ourselves, we automatically get more insight into ourselves and come to peace with.
Dealing with transphobic people and society:
I’ve definitely faced hardships. Transphobia is a constant reality of my life. Constantly being misgendered, being forced into the binary of man/woman, especially in public spaces is very difficult. I have faced physical violence as well because of this in spaces like local trains and public washrooms. These are all simply because I am trans.
Identifying as trans doesn’t require surgery:
A person is Transgender because they say they are/identify as trans. That is the only qualification. Body altering surgeries are a major deal, everyone does not have access to them as they are expensive and dangerous. Many people may not qualify to get the surgery due to other medical conditions. At the same time, being trans is about your gender identity, not your body. Therefore, it is absolutely valid for someone to be comfortable with their body and not want any surgery.
About Gender Dysphoria:
Gender Dysphoria refers to discomfort caused by incongruence between ones assigned gender and the gender they identify with. One can experience Physical Dysphoria in the form of pain or discomfort, or social/mental/emotional Dysphoria which are caused by how society perceives or treats the person. All people who experience Dysphoria are not transgender and all transgender people do not experience Dysphoria. These two are mutually exclusive.
I deal with dysphoria on a everyday basis. I am extremely uncomfortable with people gendering my body a certain way based on their perceptions. This causes me a lot of physical pain and mental trauma. Working towards seeing yourself in the way that makes you happy, is how I cope with dysphoria.
Gender non binary in my terms:
People tend to disregard non-binary people as not real, confused kids, or as a trend. It is very hurtful to say the least. If we agree with the fact that gender is a social construct, then why is it so difficult to understand that gender can be experienced beyond the limited bounds of man/woman or masculine/feminine?
That is what being non-binary is. To have your own unique gender experience.
Gender identity, assigned sex, gender expression, and sexual/romantic attraction are all different axis of identity. Being gender non-binary is only related to the person’s gender identity. It may affect other aspects but are not defined by them.
Society’s reluctance towards the trans community:
The oppressor always has a hard time “accepting” those that they oppress. Also, I do not believe that cisgender people have the capacity to truly understand and accept us, as our identity threatens the privilege they hold. Therefore the only thing I work for and advocate is equal rights. Trans people deserve the same rights that should be constitutional protected. This is separate from the fact of if cis people accept us or not. The existence of trans people itself should be enough for us to be equal citizens.
Section 377 has truly not made a major difference. Marginalized identities among the queer community were always oppressed and continue to be so. Transgender and Intersex people and Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi Queer people continue to be marginalized with the “LGBTQIA+”. Section 377 was celebrated as a relief only for Savarna Cisgender Gay Men. However they continue to oppress others in the queer community.
A word for the LGBTQIA+ kids stuck in unwelcome environments:
Give it time. Your physical and mental safety is of paramount importance. And you may feel agitated and frustrated to come out. But that does have consequences. Especially if you’re in an unsafe environment. The best thing to do is build a safety net. Build a support system of people/friends, ones who understand and support you. Since that is what will help deal with unsafe environment. And then take your time to plan and remove yourself from such a space. Do not jump the gun. Take time, be safe.
Next Read: Everything You Need To About ‘Skin Hunger’