The trauma of growing up as a transgender man in a heteronormative casteist society
I am from an adivasi village. I started to understand at age five or six that I was not a cis girl, but I had no language to express it
- Published 3.01.19, 4:49 PM
- Updated 3.01.19, 5:15 PM
- 4 mins read
I was thinking about writing a piece or article about my experience for many days. But I had been unable to write it because for a person like me, it is not easy to write. I am writing this mostly for people like me, who come from oppressed communities. I wanted to put in writing about the systematic oppression that I face. I am only able to write about this because of the strength I gained from the reading down of Section 377. Months after the reading down of Section 377 I came out and talked about my gender identity to one of my Ambedkarite friends. He encouraged me to write about my experience so it can be of help to people like us coming from the marginalised, rural areas. After lot of thought I decided to write about it.
I identify as a trans man who was born in a female body though I do not associate with the female gender. I am from Adivasi tehsil rural area, a very small village. My family occupation is farming. Both of my parents are farmers. While being forced to grow up as a ‘girl’ child, I started to understand that I was not a cis girl at the age of 5 or 6. There was no language available to me to express it. I remember refusing to wear the school uniform because of its gender-specific style.
During my entire childhood, I felt a constant discomfort with my body. I always tried to be like the boys in my school and my school teacher always stopped me from doing so. When I reached puberty my body began to change and I got periods which really caused me a lot of dysphoria. The discrimination around ‘that time of the month’ by people in my house and the society began. I still had no language in that age to describe what was happening to me. I was going through lot of depression and anxiety at that time. I would try to cut my breast and resort to other kinds of self-harm and felt severely suicidal.
There was no one to help me or support me. I cried a lot and my dysphoria even led to me having constant body shivers. When my mother noticed that I had been shivering for many days, she took me to the hospital but doctor could not understand what I was going through. He gave me some medicine which was obviously not at all helpful. The dysphoria has continued till date. But with time I have found some techniques to manage it. Though sometimes it does become unmanageable.
Growing up, I realised I was attracted to girls. Everyone in school was talking about their crushes in a heteronormative way. It once again reminded me that I was different from them all.
To hide my breast I started to wear two shirts at one time. My family pressurised me to wear clothes traditionally worn by girls with dupattas and to grow out my hair. It was a really difficult time for me. I constantly fought and argued with them. I kept my hair short and wore pants and shirts. Constantly facing discrimination in classroom by being commented on my style of walking and my way of expressing had always made me feel bad. I have faced violence and discrimination at every point in my life. I faced violence while going to washroom in schools and while using the public transport, and in any public space. But the worst kind of violence I have faced has been from my family.
Due to my farming background, it was expected of me to do all the household work and work in the farm. My family and my relatives always taunted my farming skills by saying that women are supposed to have good skills. I was the eldest child in my family so I also had to help my mother make food everyday. I had to milk our cow and do every chore that women were supposed to do. I don’t believe that there should be division of labour based on gender, but it is all part of the systematic oppression set by the society. My protest against this has always caused fights and arguments in my family.
All my life I have wanted to destroy this casteist, patriarchal, heteronormative structure that our society has been built around. I know for that to happen, we have to do a lot of work and that it is a slow and continuous process. My experiences are not limited to a single identity of gender, but of my caste, class, region, and religion. I know people like me have to go through lot and even today there are many unable to speak about themselves and who stay in constant fear due to this systematic oppression of the society. Mostly people coming from Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi backgrounds are unable to express themselves due to the burden of carrying the responsibility of the entire family. Even writing about my experiences has been a really difficult task for me.
Having said that, I want to congratulate the whole LGBTQIA+ community for the reading down of Section 377. Now we have to come together to find the way ahead. I also want to mention that though the NALSA judgement is considered a historical one as it talks about self determination, it also limits us within a single box/category. This is again something that is problematic. Even today’s #MeToo campaign which is raising lot of important questions also needs to be much more inclusive of the many marginalised voices, struggling to find a platform.
I hope that someday everyone gets to talk about their own gender identity and live their happy life. More love and power to everyone who face discrimination and violence everyday. I believe in our constitution and the Ambedkarite thought and believe that it is important for all the oppressed communities to come together and fight against the systematic and structural oppression with the tool that Ambedkar has given us.
Originally published on Feminism in India and re-published here with their permission.