There was a time when I was lonely and those days still haunt me like a nightmare. Even though I have become the country's first private licensed transgender pilot now, I was subjected to a lot of torture during my childhood days. As per tradition in our society, girls are only supposed to play with dolls but I was always breaking stereotypes even in my formative years. I used to play with cars and aeroplanes in that period. Fortunately, while playing one day, the thought of becoming a pilot popped up in my mind. Today, my dream has come true.
In 2014, I was flipping through a newspaper when a story on transgenders caught my eye. While reading that, I suspected my identity for the very first time. At the age of 13, a realisation dawned on me that I was a transgender. Subsequently, I started dreaming that one day I would get the body of my choice which would then reflect my real persona.
In a country where people judge you by your identity, disclosing it was not a cakewalk. Initially, I was reluctant to reveal my identity even to my parents, but somehow, when I was in class 12th, I did. However, instead of understanding my situation, my parents took me to a psychiatrist for treatment because they thought I could be ‘cured’. While undergoing the so-called treatment, I suffered both mental and physical trauma. After it became unbearable, I finally said to my parents that I would not do anything 'absurd' from now on.
The main reason I initially agreed to my parents' demands was I did not want to hurt them. Also, I wanted to leave India as soon as possible and fly abroad for my pilot training with my parents' consent. Later, after moving to South Africa, I understood what I really wanted in my life. The identity which I had been hiding till then, I made public through social media. One bold decision took me to where I am today.
To be honest, it was not that tough for me to undergo a transition but not everyone has been fortunate like me. There was a time when in my home state, Kerala, many transgenders were subjected to violence. Out of fear and with little hope for a better future ahead, several transgenders had to leave Kerala for places like Delhi, Mumbai and Karnataka.
However, Kerala is now the first state to have formulated a transgender policy. It drafted its policy in 2014 even before the NALSA judgment came. Under this, the state government has provided reservations in colleges for transgenders and scholarships for economically weaker trans persons. The Kerala government has also been providing money and housing for the surgery of trans people. As a trans person, I want to see the implementation of such progressive policies across the whole country.
(As told to Rajiv Nayan Chaturvedi)