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My name is Bony Pathak and I’m an 18-year-old trans woman from Kolkata. It took a very long time for me to come to terms with my identity and truly understand the power of my voice.
I was born a male. I did not feel ‘different’ when I was born and nor did I feel like I wasn’t a ‘natural-born woman’. I felt like a woman in my identity and my soul. While growing up, I witnessed and understood discrimination, gender roles, gender identity, and societal norms all around me and these experiences made me realize that I was not a woman at birth.
My parents were and are extremely supportive. They were absolutely alright with whoever I wanted to be, even if the idea was a little foreign to them. They knew there was something not ‘normal’ because my father caught me dressing up dolls and informed my mother. I came out to them because I was doing conventionally ‘feminine’ things. My mother was made aware of it before my father. She told me much later that initially, she was not comfortable with my identity. Regardless, I was never condemned by them.
I grew up as a shy and quiet person in an all-boys school for 12 long years. I felt singled out due to questions about me being ‘feminine’, bullying, incidents of name-calling, and questioning. The transphobic violence that I was subjected to was mentally traumatizing.
Once, a senior boy stopped me while I was in the playground. He wanted me to do something for him and I was so young that I could not understand his intention. He took me to a corner and wanted me to help him masturbate. In 10th grade, I entered a relationship with a boy that soon became abusive. He was dating a girl publicly while still taking physical, financial, and emotional pleasure from me. At one point, I refused to indulge in sexual activity and he forced me into it. These were some of the many instances that I faced while being ‘different’.
On my 18th birthday, I went to a party wearing an evening gown. Instead of flooding me with birthday wishes, people started gossiping about my photographs. They felt like it was not okay for me to dress however I wanted to dress. They instigated my friends against me for something as simple as wearing the clothes of my own choice only to get me to stop dressing like that and some were even planning to confront me. It was a little hurtful that people felt entitled to that just because I am a trans woman.
I am a sculptor and went to a shop once to get some supplies. At that shop, two men took me to the backyard with the intention of harassing me. That incident was my breaking point due to the years of trauma which comes with being a transwoman, unfortunately.
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I went to therapy in 10th grade because of my depression that was noticeable to all. I would be crying constantly and people around me were worried about me. The fear of being rejected by my parents and society made me not open up to the therapist. I was depressed and confused. Not only was I questioning my gender and sexuality, but also the misery of people not understanding a transgender relationship. Eventually, I opened up to a teacher and a family member. They provided me with aid and a direction. I truly believe that I am who I am because of them today.
I am a model, columnist, and sculptor. I wish to be an activist and an idol for children like me. I wish to be an active activist and show the world that transgender people are not subordinate to cisgender people. We can do everything under the blue sky. Accepting yourself is the most important thing and I can finally say that I feel free to be friends with myself now.