Mounada Mathu : A special series on Stigma & Discrimination against LGBT communities- Episode 5

Sonu’s Story |Kerala

My name is Sonu and I am a Female-to male-transgender from Kerala. I don’t know who my dad is, I’ve never met him. I come from a Dalit family and my mom took tuitions to feed me. In 3rd std I fell in love with 4th std girl- used to imagine all songs as a woman- and admired heroines in females- in 10th I cut my hair and wore pant and shirt- studied in a women’s college and faced a lot of trouble from parents who complained about why there is a man admitted to college. The principal called mine and my friend’s parents with similar problems and asked us to wear women’s clothes and asked all our friends to stay away from us. There was a lot of discrimination after that and eventually I dropped out before my 12th exams. My friend was actually my senior in school and we bonded during cricket games. We started opening up with each other and became close friends. I always wondered why my feelings contradict my body and this led me to hate my body. My family belongs to those working class families who care more about the thoughts of the neighbors and worry about their image and respect. So, I never really had any opportunity to open up.

   In my childhood, I realized the discrimination against women and the patriarchal thinking of society. They expected that as girls, we should be demure and behaving like a boy was against the natural order of their society. I was always teased and called me names, at home and outside. They fiercely opposed me when I cut my hair and I had to lie and give excuse about being in the cricket team. After my mother passed away, it became more difficult. My relatives started pressurizing me to grow my hair and wear women’s clothes in order to find a suitable guy. They also started opposing me being close to a girl, who was incidentally my lover. Hen the pressures increased, I saw two options before me-suicide or run away. At that time, I came in contact with an NGO- Firm-which worked for sexual minorities. Through them, I participated in a World Social Forum in Mumbai. There I met Famila a male to female transgender whom I grew close to and also met many other people who shared my emotions and understood me. Famila, asked me to stay with her and not go back owing to the increasing marriage pressures. But I returned to Kerala. From there, escaping was very difficult. I started looking for jobs in fancy stores and medical stores but the behavior meted out to me was very demeaning. Later, I came to Bangalore to meet Famila, giving the excuse of cricket championships. I started working in Sangama, but initially I was very lazy and got kicked out. But I tried again, I secured a job. I worked in many projects and learnt a lot. One of the difficulties we face is health care. Doctors and nurses in hospitals make fun of us and point fingers at us. Eventually we stopped going to hospitals and resort to buying medicine from local medicine shops. Also, lack of toilet facilities lead to many of us facing kidney troubles. Getting jobs is another difficulty as we possess no education, owing to discontinuing studies at an early age. We should be judged on our skills rather than education while giving us a job. Finding houses to stay is tough because the owners judge us and charge us extra knowing our situation. In public places, we are denied seats in the gent’s seats and start questioning us about our clothes and mannerisms. As a message, I would like to say that labeling a gender and limiting that gender to a box was brought about by society. Expecting someone to behave in a certain way due to their gender is too much. Friends and family members should support people who have such feelings and not humiliate them or ostracize them. They are as much human as everyone else.

Transcribed by Ashwini Raj

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