Thursday, Sep 29, 2022
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Kashmir

A Kashmiri Transwoman's Resolve To Fight Against Social Stigma

She chose acamedic pursuit to escape the crushing social stigma. Today, she helps others like her stand up on their feet

Coexistence: Artwork by Anwesh Kumar Sahoo

While growing up, Ejaz Ahmad, now 23, realised she was not a boy. For her, it was “a living hell.” Her parents watched her every move, especially when relatives pointed how she looked more comfortable with girls than boys, and the local youth would taunt her. “My father was a labourer. My mother is a housewife. They were not able to understand what happened to their son. They did their best to make me behave (like a boy). They took me to peers (‘faith healers’) and shrines. They were pained to see their beloved son as a transgender. It was killing me to see their helplessness,” says Ahmad, his eyes moist.

Trans people form a minority of just around 4,000 in Kashmir. Many of them are shunned by society, live in poverty, face abuse from even their families, and battle stereotypes—like being addressed as sex workers. They work as wedding matchmakers, run make-up trading enterprises and/or perform traditional dances during marriage ceremonies. Very few earn well enough to support their families.

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