Life as a transgender
Rukshana Kapali/ Pahichan – On 19th Chilla 1119 of Nepal Sambat, or 4th March 1999, I took birth in my family as the first male child of my parents and also the eldest grandchild. We lived in a joint family. My childhood was spent with children of my grandparents, and my grandfather’s younger brother’s children; and their children as well. My aunt kept my name as Krozan Kapali during the name keeping ceremony. I was enrolled in Eden Garden Boarding School when I was 2 years old.
At a very small age, I liked to do girly things. I had an 8 months elder female cousin. So I had got chance to grow up and play with her. I liked when my mom was putting her maker up. Since the age, I had gained consciousness, I felt girly. I used to be fascinated by my female teachers and at home acted as they used to. I still remember when I wore my aunt(my father’s youngest sister)’s heels and tied a cloth around me , and acted as my teachers. As I grew up, I started wearing ‘mehendis‘ and bangles during the month of Shrawan, when all the female members of my family did it. It was not a culture of men, therefore my family refused to do it and I used to cry for that. I had long hair since my parents believed in a Hindu ritual that hair of boys should not be cut until he reaches at age of 5. Therefore, I had got chance to wear down my hair long and tie it two sided as most girls did. I usually wrapped myself with my grandma’s sari and then danced and took pictures. Many found my behavior unusual and a feeling of dislike was present in their facial expressions.
After I reached Grade 2, my teachers told me I should have my hair cut, since it is considered boys putting hair long was undisciplined. Due to an existence of teacher’s authority in our society, I had no option either.
Grade 5: I was growing very naturally as all young people did, but I never paid attention to myself, because I had not got a sense of realization yet. One day one of my friend commented that I walked shaking my hips just like a girl. At that time, when I was Grade 5, I did not pay much attention. I loved dancing a lot. That time, my teachers taught about marriage and all. During such imaginations, people told me I have to marry a girl, be a husband and a father. I imagined myself that way, but soon I thought what if I was a girl and had to be a wife! I found it more comfortable to imagine myself as a wife rather than a husband. When I imagined my role as a husband in family, it disgusted me.
Grade 6: It was the time when I was about to step into adolescence. During this time, actual gender segregation in my class started. Before, we never thought about guys and girls, but now such feeling of separation emerged on our brain, might be due to our social context. I wanted to sit with girls, play with them and talk with them, but they refused to sit with me, rather told me to go with boys. I did not find a comfort with boy’s company, but since I was a male, I had to sit with them. And my friends started to notice unusual things on me which I never noticed myself. They said I walked like a girl, and talked like a girl. I felt a bit scared and sad at the moment. I even watched TV serials, which is said to be girly in our society.
Grade 8: This was the time I reached my adolescence period. I started to notice physical and emotional changes on me just like other people did. I realized what it means to feel sexual and get horny. When I first started to grew beard, I felt an intense dislike towards it. All my body was continuing to grow hair and it seemed so disgusting to me. I felt like “No these things should not be happening to me”, “Ah! why am I growing these hairs all over”. It was the time when I was seeing hormonal development in me, that grew my male secondary sexual characteristics. Growth of my larynx and deepening of voice, made me feel down. I did not want that, specially those hair in my body and more specifically the facial hair. But it were changed which I could not control. At this Grade, I discovered my gender identity and sexuality. A news of a famous actor Santosh Panta‘s son who changed sex and became a daughter, namely the news of Caitlin Panta came as a shock to the Nepalese society. Then I got the word “transgender” and started to Google about it. I then knew all about LGBTI. What homosexuality, bisexuality was. What being a transgender was. And I also figured out I was a transgender not gay as my friends kept me name. I almost spent hours and hours to Google on such topic and fulfilled my quest on my issue. All I did was hung up over internet and search about things related to homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender and intersex people
And yes, the most important discover was my attraction towards boys. This was also a reason for my curiosity. I felt an attraction towards boys. I just don’t know in what words to explain those first feelings I got for a man. Those were some different feeling. I knew what being sexual was, what is it like to get horny. I started to google porn and watched it. I never saw those which had a man and woman having sex, rather a man and a transgender woman. I felt attracted when I saw handsome men, and it was obviously unusual for a heteronormative society. I shared my feelings to some of my girl classmates. They reacted that if I was ill and need a change in the way I feel. One of my classmate, my friend, Garima, she did know about things related to LGBTI.
I made a Fake Id on Facebook, where I added many LGBTI friends who were also in fake id. I had bought a lot of girl’s dresses and makeup and use to secretly put when I was alone at home or in my room. It was the age when I was exploring my sexuality. But I somehow disliked that Facebook, because there were really over-sexual people there. I could not get to that over-sexual world, and constant messages from boys asking me for sex, made me close that Fake Id forever.
The teasing and calling names of my friends was getting too much and was out of my tolerance. I therefore made a bold claim that I am a transgender. What the fuck do you have problem with it? And the days of struggle started. I always took stand of my gender identity in school. My school became like a nightmare. Quarrel, bullying, arguments, and conflicts with my classmates became a daily routine. I was fed of my school. I came up with suicidal feelings as well. Then through the medium of internet, I contacted Blue Diamond Society and got connected with much of LGBTI people. Although I usually did not visit the organization. All I wanted was to get rid of daily issues in my class. I frequently got absent in school. Most of the times, I was on Facebook. It was because there were people who are just like me, or belonged to the LGBTI community or ones who supported me the way I am. I felt a disconnection with the real world and got attached to the virtual world very much. School was little bit fun, but much of fear, much of hate, much of bullies.
In the end days of Grade 9, I wrote a post on my Facebook coming out to all people. I soon received calls from all relatives with a lot of negative comments. They accused me of pretending to be a girl, or calling something unnatural. You know, it does not give much effect when someone unknown tells bad about you, or hates the way you are. But when your own people, your own family and your own friends, disown you, misbehave with you and make the environment unsuitable, you know that is a heart breaking moment.
But I somehow managed wearing girls dress when I was home. First of all everyone in the neighborhood, family and relatives started talking about me. Daily I had to pour millions of negative vibes into my ears. But slowly, in family things were getting better. Unlike, my school environment went on being worse. My principal was a big bully. His conservationism and bigotry! He never allowed me to put on skirts.
Also, most of the times they said that transwomen don’t get babies and they can’t get married, they can’t have their own family. At that time I really felt to reply like, “Just because you are unknown about diverse sexual orientations, does not mean such things don’t exist. There are also men who are attracted to transwomen. Problem is in society that does not accept our relationship, and cause stigma and harsh discrimination to such couples, and even men who are attracted to transwomen face high stigma, bullying, social exclusion and many discriminatory things. Problem is in the law that does not recognize our marriage. Yes, transwomen can’t be pregnant and give birth to babies. That is not a matter of shame. It is a reality. Let us adopt babies and establish family. We can be better mothers than some biological females.” But explaining ignorant is a waste of time.
Coming Out to family and society(Grade 10)
I had already told about me to my friends. But for the family I never orally came out. On the day of my grandpa’s birthday, I just took out a girl’s dress, put it and walked. Then everyone was shocked. Issues started. My parents told me not to do this. There were a lot of chaos in my family. But I never stopped to. I wanted to wear skirt in my school and wear my hair longs. But the principal threatened me to restrict from my school, if I did so. he scolded me and I was punished many times. He was authoritarian. I cannot explain how much scared I was and what abuses my principal made on me. He used to call me many times in his office and the main threaten was, ” It is my school and it is my choice. I have full authority. I was restrict you from school. I will not allow you to give SLC.” He was emotionally threatening me. Once he saw me putting skirt and wig on the street, and the other day he gave me a big hit on my back for that.
And on the other side, were my family members. Many of my relatives, revolted against me and my decision. They started vomiting transphobic beliefs and ideas. If I start to describe what happened, it will take me hours and I can’t even jot down all the abuses I faced. I made continuous posts on LGBTI issues in social networking sites.
The most embarrassing moments used to be, being teased on streets. Those days were horrifying. I felt quite depressed when people used to laugh at me, giggle on me, and they went on a corner just to take a glimpse of me. People saw me from back, ran in front quickly and went into a corner, looked at me, and started laughing. I was like a comedy character on street. I used to walk, and passers by made a laugh, while I could hear people walking around me made transphobic comments. Some guys were even pointing at me be like, “Ok lets bet. Go and unzip that person’s pant, bla bla bla”. I initial days, I screamed at those people, got angry, and used to reply them with vulgar words, then they kept quite. But later, I start to ignore them and their actions did not matter much. Walking in street, for transgender people, is not more than a nightmare. You know it is not just at house or at schools you’re being hated and bullied, but taking every step in the streets seemed like stepping on thorns. It was really horrible! Those moments were really embarrassing. Somehow even today also I face this situation. Sometimes, I feel so angry that I want to go and hit them on their face, show them their place, and you know a lot of anger in me.
I proudly marched toward the house with my head held high, but the bitterness, humiliation and tears burst forward when I was back in the safe confines of my home.
My mother was easily convinced with me, since she loved me a “looooooooooooooooot”. My it took a long time for my dad. Firstly, he was abusive as well, because our neighbors started to talk about us. Literally, I did nothing to convince them. All tasks where done my dad’s customers(He owned a tailor) and some neighbors. They explained about these things to my father. Due to conversation with many of his customers, neighbors, who were fortunately not transphobic, my dad got convinced. I understand the feelings of my parents as well since they were raised in a heteronormative and cisnormative society, it was obvious to have transphobic feelings and for that we need counselling and education about LGBTI.
The most difficult part in convincing was due to me pretending in past. For all transgender people, I would like to suggest not to pretend what you’re not. If you do so, it will be a hurdle while coming out. When I came out, many people reacted as I was not like this before; it is not them to blame, it was because during Grade 7 I had pretended to be what I am not. I was comforting the society, not myself. This pretending also contributes a lot in having misconceptions regarding transgenders, but we are in such society where you can’t help as well.
After Grade 10
However, I escaped the cage of my school after giving SLC. I started to wear down my hair and be full time in wearing girl’s dress. I was growing more feminine due to my HRT and Gender dysphoria was slowing decreasing. Also I had some love affairs with guys, through Facebook, but it did not succeed. This also kinda gave me sadness in my life. Then again the devastating earthquake I experienced.
Being generalized as prostitute and over-sexualized
Transwomen are often generalized as sex workers or prostitutes, which was one of my bad experiences. It is because a large number of transgender woman are indulged in prostitution. Many times when I walk in street, specially at night, specially in Kathmandu, random guys come and ask me my rate. First times, I felt scared and ran away, later I started to shout at them, and they ran away. But now since I can pass as a biological female, I don’t get mistake for being prostitute. Transwomen are shown with over-sexualization and in prostitution, which I feel very offensive. I believe in the concept of love and family. There is a pervasive idea that trans women are always prostitutes or over-sexual. I don’t mean to say being sexually active means unprincipled, but every transwomen cannot be generalized to such concepts.
When I have Facebook chat with those men who call themselves being attracted to transwomen, all they end up is asking for sex, although few of them are gentlemen. Sometimes, these things depresses me too much and I have felt pessimism regarding love, these days.
Being a transgender woman, a straight transgender woman; it is the most depressive and degrading feeling, when you realize that there are a lots and lots of men who are attracted to you, but among them very few men, just like once in a blue moon, exists who will love you. Most of them view you in a sexualized way. They objectify us and over-sexualize us. And even if they’re in a true relationship with you, they will not be able to be proudly accepting you in public. There is a disgusting culture of men who are attracted to transwomen.
“When you grow up trans, a feeling of not being good enough creeps up a lot of the time… I feel like I’m seeking guidance a lot of the time, and I wish that cis women [would] embrace us a little bit more and give us some help, because we need it! We are part of the population of women; we’re not just stand-alone. We function as women, and we go through a lot of the same issues — we just have less preparation
These days my father has no problem with me, he still needs some time to fully accept me, and I respect him. My mother is very loving and caring. And most of my relatives do not show indifference to me, although some still hate me. I have enrolled in AIMS Academy, Lagankhel in Humanities faculty with an aim to be a linguist and Nepal Bhasa expert. I have keen interests on language, linguistics, social activism, critical thinking, rationalism, skepticism, writing on pages, blogging, working for preservation and promotion of my native language Nepalbhasa. The administration of my college does know about my gender identity. But I have not disclosed it to the students and will not as well, because I don’t want to face the devastating and degrading moments with them once again; and it is only 2 years I have to be with them, and if they come to know later, I won’t have any problem, neither with their reactions.
It takes a lot of courage to actually stand up, be yourself, and do what you feel is right. Particularly, in a Nepali community and on top of that, when it comes to the transgender to be considered as what they are, it was next to impossible. I have probably among the who dare to go beyond the hypocrisy. I have taken a stand for myself and now I have the life of my own. We must begin blaming our culture, which stigmatizes, demeans and strips trans women of their humanity.
These days I do not have much problems with my parents. And my mother even keep on making humor about me eloping with a guy, that’s funny! But other family member, comparatively do not like me much. I have seen change in their behavior after I came out. Although they do not openly show their hatred, but I can feel that.
What I dislike about the transgender community is its mass involvement in prostitution and being identified as a third gender. I think third gender is a discriminative term and it must not be used for our identification.
About my marriage
What I feel about marriage is that, yes I do want to get married to a guy. A guy who has qualities I prefer in my life partner and who is of course capable of dealing with society. Also would add up, in typical Newa culture. But our law is a barrier. There is no marriage equality that allows transwomen to get married with men. And also lets see if it is realistic to think men of Nepal would marry a transwomen openly. And also babies. Hehe, many babies. I actually love babies and wish to adopt as many children as I can. That’s too unrealistic maybe, but yet a wish. At least I might try establishing an orphanage.
I want to show that being a transgender is not a hurdle in one’s mission of life, and do at least something for my community or a at least a small contribution, that will at least make my parents’ proud for having me as their child. I also wish someday I could get married to a guy who will love me, adopt many children and establish a happy family, which I think it might not be fulfilled. All I am doing these days is writing pages, and blogs on different social issues. I believe that you can’t force someone to respect you, neither do I seek for a forceful respect; but a thing I can make sure is to refuse to be disrespected.
I feel I have a lot to do in my life. I hope that I will be able to tackle all the possible problems in future received due to my gender identity, and play a strong role in transgender acceptance(also LGBTI acceptance) and fulfill my dreams in life. I feel I have a lot to do in my life…