“I was born in Katihar, a small district of Bihar. I was 12 years old when I found out I was born in the wrong body. As soon as I grew up, the love I was getting in my childhood began to end and love was replaced by filthy jokes and dirty flirting. Since my childhood, I used to do all the work like boys and because of this people started mocking me by saying hijra (eunuch). I was only 16 years old when my friends raped me just to make me realise that I was not a girl. After that soul-shattering incident, I kept silent. There was nobody who could help me with this.
One day I read somewhere that a boy had undergone surgery to become a girl. After reading that news, I told my parents that I could not remain in that body anymore. The news of me coming out as a girl was a big shocker for my father. And many narratives explaining my problem started floating in the village. It was said was that I was a victim of black magic and only an exorcist could save me
I must say undergoing surgery was not an easy task for me. Still, I did not lose heart. After grappling with numerous challenges, my family agreed to send me to Mumbai at the age of 18. Thankfully, the complexity of my sexuality, which was beyond the comprehension of my family and took them 18 years to understand, was understood by my aunt in Mumbai in 18 days. After comprehending my situation, my aunt took me to a psychiatrist who after counselling me told me that I am suffering from 'gender dysphoria' and that I needed to undergo surgery.
I subsequently asked my parents to come to Mumbai, but all in vain. The biggest challenge was that my life was about to change and my family was not standing with me. I must say that I had to fight the toughest battle of life as a lone warrior but I am glad that I emerged victoriously.
Notwithstanding my expectations that life will become easier post-surgery, life continued to throw peculiar challenges. Things started getting more difficult for me. Post-surgery, people hurled many taunts and insulting remarks at my aunt. Ultimately, due to societal pressure, I had to leave my aunt's house.
When I left my aunt's house, I had no other place to go. Once again, I started entering into the same dreadful darkness. But by a stroke of luck, I met Abhina Aher, a transgender activist. When the society of so-called men and women looked down upon me, the transgender community adopted me. I started living with those people. They have contributed to my success. Without their support, I would not have reached the place where I am today.
Even in Bollywood, I got humiliated every day. I don't feel sad about it now though. Now, I have only one aim to do something worthwhile for the 'trans' society. It is my request to the Bollywood fraternity that instead of giving the role of 'trans' in movies to any male or female actors, give it to a real transgender person because they also have the right to show their talent. I am sure, they can also do justice to their role.
In spite of facing several roadblocks, I would say that society is changing and evolving. After the removal of Section 377 of IPC, we are reborn in the real sense and we have got a new identity. With the advent of OTT, the film industry is also witnessing a change. Still, a lot needs to be done. Society will completely change the day people stop asking us for our identity.
Navya Singh (Actor, model, dancer and brand ambassador of Miss Transqueen India Beauty Pageant).
(As told to Rajiv Nayan Chaturvedi)