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She said, "People should stay the way God has made them."

Queerspeak 1.0

“Ladkiyo waale kapde peheno, ladkio ki tarah chalo, ladki ho ladki banke raho”

Growing up in a small village near Sitapur, India, I always felt alienated and alone. In bounds of this small rural region, nobody seemed to understand me. Regressive thoughts and the haunting mentality of people always clouded my sense of authenticity. I was interested in what society deemed "masculine" things. A part of me always felt like something was missing. Like a puzzle that hadn't found its missing piece. In my school days, my family forced me to keep my hair long and wear a suit salwar as a school uniform. It felt like I was trapped in a body that didn't feel like mine.

“Sochta tha iss suit salwar ko aag laga du, shayad tab apne mann ke kapde pehen pau”

I avoided going to school for a while because of this ongoing battle with my identity. I wanted to dress differently and be myself, but somehow that always posed a threat to my family's reputation. It was a lonely journey figuring out who I was and identifying this deep-rooted discomfort within me until I stumbled upon YouTube, where I found comfort in the stories of Rajveer and Aryan, both transmen. I was able to finally understand who I am because of their detailed explanations. Every word they said felt like a magic potion to me. All my experiences, and, to be honest, my whole life, started making sense. I found a welcoming and understanding community on the internet, started following queer people, and made them my empire in the chaos and tornadoes of my real life.

Making an excuse to my family, for the first time, I went to a queer event in Lucknow. At first, I felt like the people I met there were unreal. I finally came across people who understood me, accepted me, and were able to see the person living within me. I felt like I belonged somewhere; those people gave me love in a way even my close ones could never. 

"Laga bas yahi duniya hai meri."

Seeing queer people just exist there gave me hope that I too will be myself one day and that I too will find love. My first crush was on a girl who was my sister's friend. We started talking to each other and hanging out. I gathered courage, and we confessed our feelings eventually. I wanted her to know what I wanted for myself. I expressed my desire to transition, but she forced me to stay the way I was. She said, "People should stay the way God has made them."  Part of me felt she never saw who I was, but saw what she wanted me to be. Months later, she got transferred, and everything that ever existed between us crumbled.

This town, my family, and the people who surrounded me never understood my journey, making every step difficult and excruciating on this ladder of my life.  College brought a ray of hope for me, but I was still forced to wear feminine clothes, which triggered my dysphoria more than ever. I had had enough of this suffering. I spoke with a doctor online and obtained my gender dysphoria certificate after months of saving money. Carrying hopes and my gender dysphoria certificate, I went to explain to my family what I actually feel about myself. How trapped and suffocated I feel! Every word that misgenders me feels like a knife in my back. 

Yet their concern for "Log Kya Kahenge" and “Hamari Izzat mitti me mil jayegi” overshadowed my identity.

My brother tore apart my dysphoria certificate breaking my heart into a million pieces. My brother tore apart my dysphoria certificate in front of my entire family, nobody uttered a single word in my support. My authenticity haunted their reality.

Broken, I cried endlessly in my room. This incident shattered my core; everything I ever hoped for felt blurry. I was now exempt from leaving the house. My family caged me and banned me for almost 20 days, until one day I broke down in front of my mother. I told her I'd either end myself or run away. I lied to her and told her that everything I told her was a lie to be able to live freely again. I had the realisation that my family would never support me; I would have to do this on my own. Fighting with them felt like scratching my own heart.

"Duniya se lad sakta hu par apno se ladna sabse mushkil hai!"

After yet another fight with my family, I left my home for a night. This incident shook them. My sister became tried her best to understand me. She became my beacon of support, understanding my plight but eventually started convincing me to live my life the way I wanted once I became financially independent.

Shattered by adversities yet hopeful for what the future holds for me, I joined a nursing course. Few people there understood my sense of self, and I started dressing the way I wanted. I chopped my hair short once again, feeling the little possible queer joys I could, and I continued my battle.

Saving money from nursing internships, pocket money, and cutting off every source of leisure, I ordered my first testosterone shot online. It was the happiest day, a step towards a new life. 

"Aisa laga apni ek nayi zindagi shuru kar raha hu." 

The joy a needle and bottle of hormones could bring is something I cannot explain.

Haunted by my familial coming-out experience, I gathered the courage to share my journey with my childhood friends.It initially brought concern, but they gradually understood me and my sense of self. They were concerned about the struggles I'd have to face in this transphobic world.

I told them, "Ladaiyaan Bahut ladni padengi par mai unn ladaiyon ke liye taiyaar hu!" 

One of them later revealed herself to be a lesbian, which brought joy and feeling of belongingness to both of us. I felt that incident deepened our bond. 

As the months passed, changes in my voice and the growth of a beard marked my transformation. I used to wake up everyday to find myself in front of the mirror, waiting for changes to occur. I used to share every little change I felt among both my virtual and townie friends. I felt like the world was beneath me. I started to go out more often than ever. My heart would skip a beat if a shopkeeper greeted me as "Bhaiya."

Yet, in rural areas, people's retarted mentality remained a huge obstacle. Relatives spread gossip all around, but until this point, I realised that ignorance is bliss. It was a financial struggle to save for testosterone shots, and my family yet again questioned the changes within me. I made an excuse for a hormonal imbalance in my body. I know they know I'm transitioning, but they're not as repulsive as they used to be. My sister lost her husband, which made my responsibility towards her and my family much greater. 

Living authentically meant enduring whispers behind my back. Yet, I continue my journey of transitioning in my small town, Sitapur. Retaliating to some and ignoring many, I've found my way. 

I am constantly looking for a job to be able to achieve financial independence and achieve my lifelong dream of getting my surgeries done, which is an exhausting and gruesome process in itself. However, a journey I once deemed impossible is now shaping into reality. Young Rajveer would have never believed he'd come this far.

I wish more stories of rural queer lives were shared; it would have given my younger self a representation to look up to. The standard for living a queer life is often exclusively urban. I, and every person living in each corner of India, are as queer as somebody living in urban communities. 

Rural people and areas can be a living hell for queer individuals. Due to a lack of sensitization, knowledge, and understanding, countless queer and trans people are forced to live a life of lies. This isn't something that should be normalised. Moving out of a rural area shouldn't be the only resort for queer people living there. We need to bring to light more and more stories of "RURAL QUEER INIDA" so that more people from these areas come out and live their lives as themselves. My dream is to witness a pride parade in my town:

 "Agar Delhi/Mumbai me pride parade ho sakti hai to sitapur me kyu nhi."

Although it feels like a distant hope, I hope more representation and queer lives will inspire others to come out and live authentically, breaking free from the chains of societal norms.


“Ham shayad bahut logo se alag zaroor hai, par galat nahi.”

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