Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My father wanted a Bengali girl for me, I needed a boy: India’s first Miss Trans Queen

The 26-year-old realised she was a woman trapped in a man’s body when she was just a child and has seen a lot of heartbreaks and broken friendships after she decided to change her gender.

She started the transformation process through hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after she moved to Delhi and has held her high ever since.

Nitasha, who is pursuing a management course, will now represent India in the Miss International TransQueen in Thailand in March 2018.

We caught up with the Kolkata girl to get a peek into her life’s struggles, her beliefs, and how her Miss Trans Queen title could change things for the transgender community in India.

How long does the transition process take to change one’s gender?

It takes around three to four years. Throughout the process, I was talking with my psychologist and my cousin brother. It’s tough because you need to understand who you are as a person and who you are as a soul.

When did you realise you wanted to be a woman?

Right from childhood. When my school friends from St Xavier’s went to play football, I stayed home. I was fond of badminton though and played a lot. But, mostly I was nurtured within the walls of my house and watched TV and stayed home. My mother died when I was very small so my dad played the role of a mother and father both. My brother (seven years elder) also supported me a lot because I came out to him in Class 6, though I knew about myself since Class 4.

He thought that it was a phase I was going through and that I would fall out of it and start liking girls, but I told him I am a girl myself. In fact, when I was in Class 10 he told me that it’s high time I started watching p**n. So, he gave me an adult CD and I gave it to my father, who freaked out. My brother didn’t talk to me for a week. After finishing my schooling from St Xavier’s and graduation from National Institute of Media and Communication, I moved to Delhi to start my transition phase.

What sort of reactions did you get when you told people you wanted to change?

I had a lot of friends leaving me and people talking behind my back. Initially, I felt bad but I held my head up high. I hardly had any friends during that phase. It was basically my friend Raunak, who was there for me, and my father, back in Kolkata.

When I finally came out to my father, I told him, “I am the reincarnation of your wife, so you cannot throw me out. This is when I was in Mumbai, had become a girl, and my father had come to meet me.”

Even before my transition, my father was trying to convince me that I should get married and that he would look for a Bengali girl for me. Which is when I told him, “But I want a Bengali boy!”

What are the issues faced by transgender women in India?

There is a lot of discrimination; there are rapes and no family support. When a person is taking such a decision, the family just throws them out. When you go out and people look down on you, it feels really bad. Due to this 70% of the transgender population is going under depression because society discriminates against them and looks down upon them. There is no monetary or job support and many end up in the s*x trade.

Sometime back, I also came to know about a transgender woman who was not accepted by her family due to which she decided to leave her house. She ended up in a circus, performing as a freak show. Though people used to laugh at her, she used to feel good because she could finally be what she thought herself as. But, the situation kept worsening for her, and ultimately when she died, there was no one there to even cremate her.

What needs to be done for the transgender community in India?

There need to be a lot of employment programmes. Thai airlines, PC Airways has [transgender women] air hostesses working with them, why not Indian airlines? Why not Indigo? Why not Vistara and the others? There need to be special boards formed that help provides money to transgender women for their education. There also needs to be a lot of awareness and education about transgenders in the villages. I even have a book coming out in a few months titled, “Nitasha: The voice of many” by Alka Vasudeva. She had seen me and said she wanted to write a book about me.

There also needs to be member of Parliament (MP) seats for transgenders. Only a transgender MP can understand the issues our community is facing.

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