Monday, Aug 15, 2022

We Don't Even Know Exact Numbers Of Transgenders In The Country, Says Trans Community Health Expert Anmol Singh

One in hundred people in Western countries is a transgender. Imagine how big our community in India is if we go by that figure?

Trans Community Health Expert Anmol Singh
Trans Community Health Expert Anmol Singh Outlook Photo/Tribhuvan Tiwari

I was born in a very humble middle-class family. Out of sheer affection, my mother used to make me wear clothes of both boys and girls in my childhood. But as days passed, I began to insist on wearing boys' clothes only, even though I was "apparently" a girl. Gradually, things started changing and so did my parents' behavior towards me. Initially, I was confused about my identity so, at the age of 12, I started digging more into it to know who exactly I was.

I was a girl but instead of getting attracted to boys, I was drawn to girls. One day, I thought I am a lesbian, but I was even uncertain about it so I researched more and more and finally came to the conclusion that I was a transgender. For me, getting acquainted with my real identity was not shocking but revealing it to my family was frightening, to say the least. For the very first time, when I revealed my identity to my parents, they were shocked and their spontaneous reaction was, "What has happened to you? Are you crazy?"

Fortunately, after some initial hiccups, my family started supporting and accepting me. But unfortunately, I could not find a place in society. Thereafter, I made up my mind not to live in India. But due to my family’s financial crunch, I did not have the opportunity to fly abroad. Moving ahead, coming into the medical profession was serendipity for me. One day my sister jokingly advised me to become a doctor so that I could replace 'miss' from my name with 'doctor'. Thus, without any interest, I started pursuing medicine with little hope that if not all my problems, at least a modicum of them would be sorted out by it.

Before taking admission in the medical college, I used to think that doctors are a very elite and educated class of our society but I was wrong. I faced brutality at the college. Due to my identity, my teacher started humiliating me in front of students in the class and I became gossip material for everybody on the campus. Those days were so tough for me but somehow I managed to complete my course and I flew out to Scotland for further study — the most trans-friendly place in the world.

Once I reached there, I could breathe free outside of my country. It was only there I got to know the power and importance of community-building and on that day I decided that after completing my course, I would return to India to work for the betterment of my transgender community.

Now as a public health expert, I have been working in the field of cancer and mental health for the past six years. As a transman, I know that surgery costs lakhs of rupees and it is impossible for everybody in the trans community to afford it in a country where most people earn a living by begging or sex work. That is why I think that if the government starts giving financial help for surgery, half the problem of such people will end automatically.

Unfortunately, we are so downtrodden in society that the government does not even have the exact figure of how many transgenders are living in the country. One in hundred people in Western countries is a transgender. Imagine how big our community in India is if we go by that figure? We do not even know how many transgenders are dying every day because of suffocation, humiliation, and discrimination meted out to them in society. If the government starts giving help and society starts understanding and empathising with us, there would be prosperity in our community too.

(As told to Rajiv Nayan Chaturvedi)