Growing up, I was taught that boys grow up to be men and girls grow up on be women. Patriarchy was heavily celebrated in my culture and the idea of erasing male privilege to become a woman was a foreign one for my family. I was 12 years old when I finally realized that although I was born male, my plight was to transition to female and that I would have to make this journey despite all the odds.
Becoming a trans woman at 17 years old in Polk County, Florida, was jarring. I was grappling with so many intersections. First was the color of my skin; I hail from West and East Indian immigrants. Second was learning to navigate the world as a woman; what that meant, how I would learn to feel about myself and the world I lived in.
At 29 I still grapple with the intersections of being a trans woman of color. I have the ability to navigate the world a lot easier because I’ve been granted passing privilege, so I create change in my community by working in social justice and community-building to lay the foundation for the generation that will follow after me.
At 12 years old I made a decision that altered the course of my life forever, one that was rooted in honesty and authenticity. The fact that I get to be a visible trans woman of color in this social and political climate is profound. I dream of a day when we are not taboo and stigma placed on trans people, immigrants, and people of color are no longer applicable.
Tell us your experience as a transwoman in your environment – work as well as social settings:
At first it wasn’t the easiest. Mostly because of my own thoughts and feelings about what people may think say or do. Then eventually I just realized that this is for me, my happiness and no one else’s. Once I let my whole walls of defense down, my eyes were able to open and see the true picture around me. Everyone wants and needs to be loved, and sometimes some people may not understand your need for this, but it’s not for them. Now I can say I feel comfortable in my work life and social settings. I think it’s also important to point out, that by surrounding yourself with positive people who love you is truly important.
How important for you to be authentic?
It’s a necessity, it’s a must. I have lived a lie for many years before being honest about my authentic self. It’s liberating, but also required in order to live my life to my fullest potential. At the end of the day that is all I can dream and pray for.
What does it mean to be visible and be counted?
Visibility to me, means breaking down the barriers that block us from each other. It means standing up even if your friends are too afraid. Visibility is more than just being “Visible” it’s an action something you strive to do, not be.