Aryan's Journey From A Woman To A Transman
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” ~ Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
One day 6-year-old Nyla, biologically born a girl, walked up to her parents and told them that she would refuse to go to school unless she got to wear the boy’s uniform. She knew she was a boy, at that very moment.
Aryan’s ancestors belong to Turkey. Today, he lives with his father, step mom and three sisters. School years went by and, besides few of his teachers, everyone in school knew Aryan as a boy.
He faced his initial struggles when as a gifted speed skater he started winning all the competitions at zonal and national level. What wrecked his heart was that his name appeared for participation in the “women’s" category. He would break into tears as a child and fight with his teachers but eventually gave in because he loved skating and was great at it too. But when he got selected for the international competition he knew that he wouldn’t continue anymore. The fact that he knew he was a boy even at that tender age was far more important to him.
He knew he couldn’t kill his real self like this. Aryan says, “For me my identity is most important.”
When he was six years old his parents got divorced. He initially lived with his uncle and then moved back home with his immediate family. His father, the extended family and relatives thought this was just a phase. That he was a tomboy. However, having studied psychology, his step mom observed him.
She noticed his behavior patterns, body language, repressed anger, depression, reclusion and loneliness. Each time someone addressed or referred to him as a girl, he would react negatively or violently. Finally when Aryan turned 16 years of age, his second mom introduced him to the concept of 'transgender people'.
They researched, read, studied and watched videos to understand what it meant to be a transgender person. This helped him find his initial footing. He felt more grounded with this new found knowledge. There was a new sense of assurance and confidence. Before this, many a times he was just filled with regret, dejection and low self-esteem.
With this she also introduced the concept to his father and the other children. His father, an established real estate builder, at the onset didn’t deny it, but also wasn’t ready to buy into the fact completely. He still thought it was just a phase. However when they duly explored the concept based on facts and truths, the whole family unitedly accepted him with complete honesty, openness and no judgments. Infact, Aryan’s old grandfather who is a doctor in a small village called Kanpura in Moradabad reacted by saying “I just care about my grandchild’s happiness now that I have a grandson too.” As a family they assured him that his happiness was the key thing and they didn’t care about the world and its taboos. Now when he visits the village his grandfather proudly introduces him to everyone around.
A supportive family plays the greatest role for a child; it is the decisive factor which ensures success and happiness in their adult life. The acceptance freed him; he now identified himself as a “Transman”.
Aryan shares, “First accept your own self.”
When asked who is your support system? He confirms without batting an eye lid, that “It is my second mom. She helped me come into my own.”
Self acceptance doesn’t come easy. Constantly when we are told to fit in to preset notions of others, we are haunted and broken to become who we are not. Self acceptance is fraught with struggle, upheaval, fear and cynicism.
One of the most difficult times for Aryan was when puberty hit him. Menstruation was not something he wanted and dealing with it was agonizing and distressing. He didn’t want it and yet it was happening to him. Things were out of control. There was no way around then, he had to accept his self ; the fact that he was his own kind of man.
In Class 12, few of his peers finally got to know. Even though he was one of the strongest boys in class, he was mocked and called Hijra” and threatened with rape. The emotional and psychological abuse battered him, Aryan decided to drop out and not take his Class 12 class board exams. He couldn’t imagine a buddy could turn to be a tormentor this way.
At the age of 18, Aryan went through two transitional surgeries with the complete support and backing of his family; a mastectomy and hysterectomy operation. Things changed overnight from here.
All his anger issues, suicidal tendencies and depression completely stopped. Suddenly he found himself, self love and mental peace. He then took his exams. Finally he was comfortable in his own skin.
Aryan wanted to study Sociology Honors from Delhi University. He changed his legal identity documents with the transition from a female to Transman.
The Indian constitution legally recognizes a transgender person in the “third gender” category, but even with an 84% percentile and being a national level sports person, he was refused admission because of identity choices.
That day at the college, his step mom had requested the office to respect his right to privacy. But he was not given admission to the course and within fifteen minutes rumor mills were working overtime and news spread like wildfire all through the campus about his transition. He was suddenly talk of the town. His step mom broke down into tears and told the college that she will not allow anyone to disrespect her child.
Aryan moved to Mumbai and got admission in Rizvi Law College and enrolled into the 5 year law course at 19 years of age. The college principal gave him his due respect and dignity. During his college years, he shared his journey with two of his close friends. His friends’ reaction to the revelation was, “That we just care about you as person. That’s what matters. Your gender is your choice.” Though he stayed on his own in a rented apartment, but during exams he would go stay at the boys’ hostel. He had to be extra careful as the boys played pranks on each other in dorms. Dealing with all this strengthened him further.
At age 25, graduating after five years as a lawyer, he has joined MARG, working for the legal empowerment of LGBT community. As a researcher, social and community activist, he is helping his peers understand how the NALSA judgment works, its implications, power, rights, how civil/criminal proceedings function, liberties, challenges and impact etc for a Transgender person. He is also working on a petition for gender neutral laws in India. He wants to change the definition of rape and make it more inclusive to recognize all kinds of violence.
There was a time when he wasn’t comfortable with his past identity, but now he has come out in the open. On his 25th birthday he invited all his friends and family and came out about his identity.
He doesn’t want to hide the fact that he was born a biological girl and now a trans man. He is encouraging others with his own example, to accept and reveal their own identity and understand that they are not alone. There is a world out there of similar peers and friends. Today, because of his own bravado people from all over the world write to him telling him how they find inspiration in him, have given up their suicidal tendencies and getting transition surgeries done. All these people keep him motivated in return.
When you meet Aryan, you are struck by his power, self-belief, sincerity and kindness. His intellect, sensitivity, maturity and insight as a human being is simply electric and inspirational. With that he looks super healthy, fit and attractive.
One’s identity is a person’s fundamental right and liberty. Being a Transman doesn’t make him different, an outcast, wrong or bad. He is human. When asked what’s the best thing about your life so far? Aryan confidently reiterates, “The best thing is I am a Trans man.”