What next? What’s going to happen to me?: Rukshana Kapali, Youth Voices Count
Kathmandu (Pahichan) December 4 – Youth Voices Count released a collection of testimonies from young LGBTQ+ people in Asia and the Pacific, “Stories of Struggles”, featuring the struggles they have endured growing up as adolescents and young people in the absences of comprehensive sexuality education.
This collection of testimonies briought the stories of survivors and most importantly stories of heroes who have stood up to the hardships of their lives and triumphantly emerged as strong and successful young adults facing life with passion and courage.
In the testimony, a young Nepalese transwoman Rukshana Kapali’s story was also shared. The story as per published in the testimony of Youth Voice Count:
“But with that came enormous fear.
What’s going to happen to me?”
18‐year‐old Rukshana is a young transgender woman from Yala, Kathmandu valley, Nepal. She is currently working with Blue Diamond Society, one of the oldest and successful organizations in South Asia working for LGBT community in Nepal. Rukshana also runs a radio program in Nepal and is also actively involved in indigenous and ethnic issues in Nepal.
As many other transgender women, Rukshana faced numerous challenges growing up. She reflects on the hardships and challenges she had to face as a student at the school.
“School life was miserable. I was bullied, harassed and called names. I knew I was different but I didn’t know what it was”
She knew she was different from a very young age. She noticed the changes in her emotions as she was physically growing up and she knew that her emotions were different to those of her school mates. The difference that her school mates noticed in her lead them to bully and harass her.
In retrospect, Rukshana now thinks that her school mates were not inherently bullies but complete lack of understanding and information made them bully her.
“Born in a male body, having all feminine aspects and attributes, the people surrounding and observing me started to bully me”.
Rukshana had no support from school authorities. Even though the school was in Kathmandu, the principle had very conservative ideas. Each me she complained about the bullying, she, who was the victim, became the perpetrator and was severely warned against misbehaving. She was also threatened to be expelled from the school as her behavior was claimed to bring shame.
“I tried my best to avoid being bullied. I went to school late so that no students will be outside to bully me”
“There was no way that I was able to get any information from school about what was going on with me. No lessons in the school tackled these issues”
Her first glimpse to transgender identify came through a newspaper. The “son” of a famous actor had gone through a gender reassignment surgery and the news was all over papers. With such news, Rukshana started looking for information online, started spending more me at internet cafes and gradually she confirmed to herself that she is “transgender”
“The revelation didn’t bring any special joy to me. I already knew I was different and the information confirmed it. But with that came enormous fear. What next? What’s going to happen to me?”
Rukshana didn’t know back then what her transgender life would entail in the future. There was no one that she could talk to or someone that could give her any information. Looking back at her struggle she reflects that had she had such information, her school life would have been much beer with higher scores at exams. She also thinks that she could have had more long lasting friendships with her schoolmates had they had such information.
Rukshana urges that teachers and principals to be sensitized and trained on comprehensive sexuality education and especially in providing such education to students in a sensitive and non‐ judgmental manner. She also emphasizes the importance of imparting such training to teachers and principals on a regular basis to create an ongoing discussion on these issues in order to make them non‐controversial.
“Ensure high quality CSE, that considers the full spectrum of young people’s sexual and reproductive lives, is delivered within schools and the national curriculum as well as across non‐formal settings.