To exist in sanskaar and stigma as a transgender in India!

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Amala Parammal

Amala Parammal notes her experience of living out and being proud as a young transgender woman in modern India.

In the quiet spaces between societal scrutiny and unwelcome stares, the pleasure of taking some time out to celebrate my womanhood and trans joy always feels jubilant. This journey, adorned with threads of resilience and revelation, is as deeply personal as it is profound. It's not every day that I get to celebrate my womanhood where my being is not subjected to scrutiny and uninvited eyes blackball my gender identity. To experience my womanhood every waking moment was my reality from as far back as I can recollect.  

As I reflect on this journey, I'm taken back to that pivotal moment at 18 when I bid farewell to the familiarity of my village in Kerala and ventured into the vast expanse of Bangalore City for my higher education. It was a moment of liberation, an awakening to the essence of adulthood. 

Now, at 23, after three years of embracing my identity as a trans woman, I stand at the crossroads of acceptance and adversity. Here, amidst the culturally diverse and pertinent history of the Indian trans feminine likeness, exists the glorified, villainized and exiled, yet in some ways held as its own, transgenders. And I bear witness to both triumphs and tribulations.

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The modern adaptation of transphobia does not seem to have missed its menacing manifestation in the Indian context. Mocking online group chats and political scapegoating are a stark reminder of the precariousness of our visibility and the consequences that loom on the horizon. When I came out to my family, I feared rejection and abandonment. Yet, to my surprise, they embraced me wholeheartedly. What astonished me, even more, was the outpouring of support from my extended family, my neighbourhood, and even my 75-year-old grandfather, who not only accepted but celebrated my liberation. 

Attending a college like NIFT provided me with a space for self-expression like no other. Graduating last year was a dream come true, a testament to the progress we've made. But I am aware of my privilege—I've been fortunate in many ways, and I urge you to recognize that my experience is not the norm for most Indian transgender individuals. 

But within the depths of adversity, there lies hope—a beacon that beckons us forward. It's a clarion call for informed institutions that safeguard the rights and dignity of transgender individuals nationwide. We advocate for horizontal reservations and support structures that empower us to live authentically and with pride. 

For many, neglect from institutions like the police force and hospitals is a harsh reality. Imagine being abandoned by your family, with no roof over your head and medical bills piling up. Trans people are marginalized and pushed to the fringes of society, yet our stories are too often relegated to tragic or comedic anecdotes. 

It's time to change the narrative and advocate for meaningful legislative reforms, including horizontal reservations for trans people, to ensure our upliftment. It's incumbent upon all Indians to stand in solidarity with their trans siblings, to make us proud and accepted members of society.

If being out and visible as a queer individual of this generation aids to a larger understanding and productive perspective on the lived experiences of transgender individuals, it is a purpose I would gladly serve.

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