My school was a prison for me: Transwoman Rukshana


P.C. BBC.co.uk

Kathmandu(Pahichan) August 10- A teenager activist transgender woman calls her experiences back when she was studying in school and terms her school life as a “prison”. Born as male, who identifies as a woman, has now done transplantation and therapy for appearing the way she feels.

Rukshana Kapali before transition in school days

“As a transgender woman, schooling was the most difficult phase of my life. 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.”, she said.

This is her narrative on the experiences of being a transgender woman, who figured out that she is something different, and tried to spoke about it and was suppressed.

“I knew I was different. After I figured out that I was transgender woman, I did not want to stick in the barriers of society. When I tired to be who I really was, I was silenced, by the psychological fear of society, and the principal of my school.”

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.

When I got to Grade 7, I started discovering myself. I had been sure that I am different. I behave like a girl. And this thing, was the saddest realization I ever made. Whenever I did something, I was made a comment for being girly. This made such a depressive feeling in myself that I started to be discourage myself from all activities. I kept silent in class, because people would comment my speaking was girly. I did not usually walk and I felt discomfort in walking around, because they comment that my walking is girly. I felt fully suffocated from myself. I started to pretend and show that I was masculine. I made my hairstyle just as other boys did. I started to notice the language they used to speak. Almost all my attention was to look how boys did different things and copy them to myself. I, likely, glorified fighting, because it was considered being masculine. I started to dress up swag and all. I also made talks about having a girlfriend, liking girls and a lot more.

My friends started to address me with words like chakka and hijra . And I had a sense of complete loss in confidence of dealing with people. I was like ” What is happening with me”, “Why am I like this”. And people called me a “gay”( actually Nepalese society are usually unaware that being gay and transgender are different things). I spent my mind, and plenty of time just thinking about how I could get rid from those comments, how I could stay away from such bashing and all. All my attention went towards how I could not appear feminine to them and how I could make my friends feel that I was their so-called “normal”. This caused a trauma in me.

All my days went on questioning myself. I could not figure out what I was.

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.

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 f*** 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.

Teachers were fine. All of them were supportive, at least did not bully me. But my principal was the person who used to bully me. It was not always direct. He used to find very small mistakes, make excuses. He even kicked me and started to boast that he wants to kick that ‘transgender ghost’ out of me. I still remember those miserable incidents. He wanted me to stay away from girls and sit with boys.

I lost my focus on studies. I wanted a good environment. It was  a fake id on facebook. There I was hidden, my gender identity was not. I found a lot of trans friends, but also men who were interested on me. It used to be fun flirting with them. After all those long whole day bullying at school, I desperately seeked for someone that would love me as my own kind. That was those people on the Facebook. Soon the conversations turned sexual, while I deleted the profile.

There was no very direct attack on me. I know that my principal did not like me because I was trans and always prohibited me to do so. Once I had committed a small mistake. I wrote an application in a very rough paper and handed it to the security guard. Then the other day, I got kicked for it, literally a big bash with his hands on my back and then a hard kick on my butt. He scolded me for that application, but his rants shifted towards me being a trans person and he just wants to stop it.

Sometimes some of my classmates would kick me. Sometimes pour water on me. Sometimes they would throw a chilly out of their tiffin on my books. I was mostly isolated because I could not fit in those typically gendered groups. I used to stay at a corner and put book in front of me, pretending to study, but actually thinking of happy moments in my life and when I could come out of this hell. Then I used to pretend that I am very lazy and I sleep everytime, just to ignore any activity. The psychological consequences of this bullying lead me to many problems. I turned up to be more aggressive, more alone speaker.

I did once inform Blue Diamond Society that I am mis-behaved. But in their telephone conversation with BDS, he talked so nicely. Again the other day he came with some threatening. He called my parents. Meanwhile i had come out to them, but yet both of my parents were also not fully convinced. The act of my principal added chilly powder in their wound. I was giving my Grade 10 Board Examination, which at that time was the most important gateway examination of school level. My principal showed a threat that he has a power and he could restrict me from the school.”

Rukshana explains how she struggled herself being in the school. “The behaviour of principal added more fuel to my bully classmates. They seemed to be encouraged from an indirect force, while I was suppressed. Every day of my school was a nightmare. I started to bunk, I started to skip and become absent too often.

You cannot not ever imagine my feelings. I was making a count down to my board examinations. A count down when my schools will be officially over and I get set free from this jail. After I gave my SLC Board, I smiled with joy and never stepped in that school ever. I was free. I came out and did things I wished. I was bailed from jail.”, she added.

Rukshana Kapali has now taken hormone therapy for more feminine appearance and looks. She is an open activist. “Within just three years of free from the jail, I have moved on a lot. People would now think after all these harassment, and bullying specially from the school administration side, and wonder if I wish to take a revenge. But that is not what I wish. I wish to do something in my life, taking the name of this school, so that those people who hated me for being trans, would be compelled to be proud of me being a part of the school. This will be my greatest day of satisfaction when all those mis-behaviour is paid.”

 

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