Our Voices The Orinam Blog

Sex Change in the Time of Saffron Politics

I know I have said this before, but coming out IS a continuous, never ending process. Every day, you’re coming out to someone, and to something. Sometimes, you’re just coming out to yourself; over and over again. I guess it’s time for the final plunge.

I’ve reached that stage where the heart does want what the heart wants, and the brain is tired of explaining. I’m at a stage where it has become too hard to explain; where I’m tired at the thought of even having to explain. I do understand your concerns, but the choice between life and death is simple. It’s life. It gets slightly more complicated when you need to kill a part of yourself in the hope to live a little, and that is where I am stuck. Sex change isn’t about the biology alone. It’s about everything that biology makes happen. Unfortunately, in our patriarchal society, we’ve grown conditioned with genders, and a million things revolve around it. If I were born as a girl, my life would have been fundamentally different right now. Good or bad? I can’t say. But different, yes. Frankly, I will never be able to explain this decision, and honestly I shouldn’t have to.

How I wish this was just about boobs and a vagina. How I wish this was just a six hour long ordeal in the hospital and a few months* on hormone replacement. How I wish I had the choice, the liberty to be, to just be. How I wish that my decisions did not have to be governed by society’s estimate of what’s a safe risk and how I wish I had the courage and the capability to do this a lot earlier in life. How I wish I did not have to reassure myself, and then many others, of the path I’m taking. The fact is that if I need to explain so much to everyone of what I intend to do with my body, it’s not only for their concern of me going on the wrong track but also for their concern of losing ‘Mayank’; a male entity in their life, and they would have absolutely no idea about how to deal with this. While I would transition biologically into something I have always wanted to be, people around me would not transition into having this new person in their life. Maya will have to rise from the ashes of Mayank, and that is a sad reality. Transition has a huge cost, and I’m not half as concerned about the financial costs of this decision. Transition comes at the risk of losing everyone and everything.

The other thing I’m warned about is falling into a debt trap. Here is my answer to it: I can be rich and successful at 30 but I can’t be a young girl at that age. The average age for gender reassignment is mid-life and I don’t want to spend the most beautiful years of my life in the state I am in right now: half alive and half dead. It might seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal for you. For me, it seems the most natural and obvious thing to be doing even if it means risking everything I currently have, for frankly, the dream to transition is all that keeps me going every day. If I kill that dream for another few years there will be no light I’d like to see. Justice delayed is justice denied, they say. This is justice for me. If I emerge victorious by the end of this battle I would have known my purpose of life and known I fulfilled it and if I’m able to inspire someone else, I would be happy that I even existed.

There is, however, a different kind of sadness that makes my chest heavy. The sadness of letting Mayank go. I’m not quite sure about how things will change, but things will change somewhat. It will be the end of an era and the beginning of something unknown. As of tonight, I have no plans at all on how to do it. I’ve thought about fundraising for it in part, and setting that as precedence for other trans people as a possible way to walk the road towards freedom. I’ve thought about the hassles of taking a predatory loan, and the vicious cycle of debt. I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but there are two things I am most certainly sure about.

One, I am not going to be ashamed of my male identity, it is and always will be an integral part of my lessons in growing up and two, I will be absolutely public about my battle against gender norms. It stopped being just about me a long time back and we’ve established that safely.

I remember when I came out, and everyone was extremely supportive. It started to change when I started talking about sex change, and when I wore a saree and posted a picture of me in that saree on social media. That changed quite a few minds. The unimaginable felt more real, and it felt more natural. It was as if, the saree was meant for me, and I was meant for it. It was the perfect amalgamation of my heart’s desires with what my body partially reflected. I was not even one bit scared or apprehensive about it. I was not even one bit concerned about what people on the streets would think. Not knowing the local language does surely help ignore anything. But I walked in pride and I knew that. I walked on the streets of an alien city knowing that isolation and separation from familiarity gave me an unprecedented space for walking with utmost freedom and confidence for I did not have to fear judgment or anticipate questions. I did not for perhaps the first time in my life have to think about what people will say, people I care about. The only thing that I had to worry about was if I pulled off that saree with the grace it deserve, and oh well, that waist did justice to it.

In my observations and limited understanding of life, I’ve come to value this infinite sense of freedom and self-reliance far more than any comfort that materialism can possibly offer. Surely a Mercedes makes it easier to complain about the grief of not being content with life, but nothing beats the empowerment that self-reliance bestows on you. I understand this is a crazy idea, but all great things started with a crazy idea. It’s now or never really for me. I’ve swum too close to the shore to succumb to a whirlwind of sadness in a violent ocean of melancholy. I refuse to give up or give in. In either case, there will be an end of me. I’d rather give my true self a real chance than live with the guilt of not having even tried.

Sex change, two words for you, story of my life. Whether it’s a happy ending or just an ending, I would have lived a life through it, even if I fail miserably; I would have lived for once. The brevity of this attempt will not matter, nor would the result for the joy of a true and genuine attempt at reaching the shore of that deserted island to start fresh from would offer me the solace that no amount of artificial comfort ever can. This is my farewell to 23 years of being, trying to be, pretending to be and for days to come, trying to give being a chance. It’s not easy saying goodbye to two decades of memories, some you remember and some remain forever. There are people, events and places that travel with you irrespective of the realms you transcend and that will always stay with me.

For now, if you ask me, how is this going to happen and when is this going to happen? Let’s just pretend I have a plan.

Mayank


* Editors’ note: While some hormones for transgender women such as anti-androgens are stopped after orchidectomy (removal of the testes), estrogen therapy is generally lifelong, to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other serious health issues. In practice, many trans* people do not have access to lifelong hormone therapy.

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  1. Hi Maya, given your determination, your future is going to be great. Let me know if you need help with fundraising. I will do my best. Hugs.

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