“It wasn’t a split second decision you know. It’s not like I was thinking, ‘You know life ain’t hard enough! Let me just put on a saree today.’ I lived 35 years of my life living a lie. Truth is always the difficult, and the right path”
Gauri, previously Gaurav, tells me as I watch her speak her mind. She is beautiful. Like every other woman I can think of on this day.
This Women’s Day, Urban Company is celebrating acceptance. Acceptance of every woman and her choices. Whether she is a home maker or a worker or both. Whether she loves a man or a woman or both. Whether she wants to get married or stay single. Whether she was born a woman or became one. Here is what we mean:
Sex change operations in India was a distant dream up till early 2000. When only the rich could afford it. What we don’t get even now is the fact that money is indeed the last of the problems faced by those who seek such transformations. Society just does not accept them for the person they are. We wonder, why is there a need? We cringe at the thought of it and ignore the fragility and the risk of dramatic emotional change people who undergo SRS (sex reassignment surgeries) face. Even though there are many cases across India of those who have the courage to embrace their identity. Even though there are even free hospitals helping people to not feel entrapped in a man’s body. Even though we have brand films and organisations supporting the cause. Is it enough?
Anyone undergoing sex change operation has to undergo a series of complex surgeries. Has to be pumped up with hormones and has to take them for life. The person is also extremely prone to depression. Adding social stigma to this mix would only make matters worse. As Rohini (once Rohit) puts it, “My family didn’t understand this. My friends didn’t. It was the most difficult time for me. I am gay and my partner found it difficult to accept the fact that I wanted to be a woman. That I was always a woman. I felt completely alienated and had to undergo intense therapy. Thankfully my family and friends came around and accepted the switch. They took their time realising that I was essentially the same person. I was always a woman and my countenance was farce. Just so I could fit in the rigid norms of the society. We keep hearing be yourself, but the minute someone does embrace it, it is hard to accept. Even audacious.”
The landmark Nalsa Judgement by the Supreme Court for equal constitutional rights for transgenders, made Aamir come back to India. He has been living in Seattle, working in the Big 4, as Ayesha. His family’s reluctance to accepting his choice was evident, which made him move countries. It took 5 months and three attempts by Aamir to convince a judge when he filed an affidavit after the sex change. After the Nalsa judgement was passed, it still took a year for it to get implemented. The pain of the surgery, the social stares and the wait. was it all worth it?
He says, “My mother had fractured her ankles and was bearing the pain for months. It took a moment of unbearable pain for her to finally get the surgery and she admitted she couldn’t take it anymore. I asked her to think about that analogy in relation to those transgender individuals who have lived their lives in the closet for so long and asked now do you get it?. She smiled and held my hand tightly.”
Does this analogy help? Society and acceptance begins at home. Be bold to change and accept change. That is how the society is meant to be.