We often come across the trans community on traffic signals begging, or at family gatherings or weddings demanding money in exchange for blessings. Yet, seldom talk to them. This Pride month, I decided to know about their lifestyle and understand their struggles.
I was waiting for my brother at the metro station where a transwoman asks for money regularly. I asked her if she can talk to me for some time and she agreed. Then I explained to her about the Pride month and she was happy to talk to me.
"I shouted louder than they did, I do not know why but I feel like a girl and I love bangles, not cricket and hockey," says Dolly (changed name) (33), a transwoman living in Dwarka Mod. This is her story.
“Congrats, it’s a boy, I think this is the first thing which was conveyed to my parents when I came to this world but this happiness lasted only till the time I started feeling like a girl. It was at a very young age that I realized it. I used to love playing with girls and wearing bangles but then I noticed that my grandmother hated it whenever I wore them,” says Dolly.
Dolly never felt like a boy and people around her did not like that at all. Her female gender identity created a growing dysphoria. She felt deeply suffocated whenever she was asked to behave like a boy. Dolly says, “I didn't know what was wrong with me then because at that time, there was no awareness among people about the LGBTQ community. At school, I was teased by other boys and that is why I preferred to stay with girls. My teacher later informed my uncle who beat me up for that.”
For many years, things were stressful for Dolly when she was struggling to identify herself and express her true self in front of the world. She came out to her family in class 9 after her mother caught her wearing bangles.
She says, “Teenage years were the most difficult phase of my life. My mom caught me applying lipstick and took me to my father. My entire family including uncles and aunts started humiliating me. I was tortured by my family after that. They even broke my left arm."
For one month, Dolly was caged in her house because of her injury. Dolly's family never understood her. According to her parents, her elder siblings were fine but she was not. She was taken to temples and priests to be cured of her 'illness'.
“My parents thought I am possessed by some evil spirit. They took me to temples, and mosques and even give me some medicines. After that, one of my father's friends told them about counselling, and my parents took me to the doctor. I still remember her name, Dr Meena. She is not alive now as she passed away in Covid, that time she was the only one who understood my situation and tried to convince my parents about it but they did not understand.”
When Dolly turned 15, the conflicts between her and her family increased. It became very difficult for her to remain a mute spectator to the violence inside her mind and the physical violence being met out to her. Their neighbours and relatives start questioning her. In addition, what happened after that was heart-wrenching.
“At the age of 15, my family threw me out of the house. I still get goosebumps and tears in my eyes when I think of that day September 25, 2004. My lips, finger, and knee was bleeding because they beat me first and then threw me out. My mother was crying but could not do anything about it because she was afraid of my father."
Dolly lived on the roads of Uttam Nagar for almost 3 months and tried to communicate with her family. However, they refused and stopped accepting her as their child. Dolly had to fight for her survival. She had no option but to beg for clothes and food.
One day, a person named Rajesh Kumar asked her where her family is and she told them everything. He called the member of the LGBT Community and they came to receive Dolly. "In the cold weather of January, I found shelter and food because of him. I was down with a 102 fever and feeling very weak. Three of them came and introduce themselves, I was afraid at first but what other option did I have? They held my hand and took me with them", says Dolly.
She further adds, “They all welcomed me and offered clothes and food to eat. They make me feel comfortable and took care of me. Our senior, we call them Amma, asked what had happened to me, and during our conversation, I told them I like wearing bangles. She gave me lots of bangles, suits, and sarees and asked me to live with them happily. I still remember the line she said to me, ‘I know you or anyone among us, does not deserve this, but we have to accept the reality and move on. From that day I never looked back and I’m very happy with my new family.”
Talking with Dolly, we understood the struggles of the LGBTQ. Dolly misses her family, but she feels how heartless they may have been to abandon their child.
Dolly even tried to meet her parents when somehow their group went to the same colony to give blessings to a newborn in 2019.
“I went there and started crying but I needed to smile and give blessings and do my work. After that, I saw my mother standing at the door and watching us and when we were leaving, she asked my group to give a blessing to my younger brother’s wife, as she is pregnant. I felt very happy that my brother is married now and I asked my colleagues to ask them about their kids so, we can bless them personally. My friend asked her and my mother invited us inside to have some water.”
When Dolly entered, what she saw horrified her.
“I was hurt and broken, she didn’t recognize me because of my look and that is completely fine. However, when I saw my picture hanging on the wall with a ‘Phool mala’, I asked my mother 'Yeh kon hai Mata Ji? She replied he is my elder son, and he is no more, a few years back he died in a road accident when he was coming back from his school. I smiled and we blessed the wife of my younger brother and left that house."
"From that day, I never went there to see them because they are happy and that’s what I always prayed for. I am happy in my life and with my new family. Signals, roads, weddings, and other works I do are my life now. People take blessings from us and give us money but don’t give us respect and I think my life is written this way, to bless others,” says Dolly