50/50 My Secret Self

The jinglings of anklets and beats of music would mesmerize him and generate pleasure sensations in his body. He used to love giving grand performances in front of his neighbours. It was all taken in a lighter note. 

Until the day his mom found out. Joy was dressed up in his mother’s saree, sindoor, and danglers. And of course, her shining bangles which she used to wear on Karwa Chauth. She was really mad at him. She took Joy in front of the deity’s image in the Puja Room and asked him to pledge before God, not to touch feminine stuff and never again to act like his mother. But that precisely was Joy’s favourite pastime indeed – to copy his mother’s mannerisms. 

Later, there was a gradual change in Joy’s body. He felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body, but he had dared not discussed this with anyone. Joy was surrounded by insecurities. He was confused about what was happening to him and his body. 

Once in his class, the science teacher introduced the topics of genetic disorders, chromosomes, and reproductive organs. Then it loomed on his mind! 

Oh! It’s a blunder! In fact, I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” 

It was like someone had taken his world in a blink, and it seemed to be disappearing. 

“ME A TRANSGENDER”

Joy mustered courage and finally disclosed this matter stutteringly to his parents. They were in a shock! They were not ready to agree to this fact. It was totally unacceptable to them. The world started slipping from Joy’s aim until Joy’s mother’s heart melted to puddles. Despondent, they were stolid for days.

Then his mother took it as a challenge. She decided to become her child’s pillar of strength.

She took Joy to a doctor and got him examined. All were aware now that Joy was a third gender, born intersex with no reproductive system. His parents were clueless. It seemed like all the doors were shut. The society was too judgemental. It was an endless day and night for Joy’s parents. However, after much effort, his parents came back with unflinching courage. They decided to fight and face the ridicule, violence, persecution from the society and to give a life of dignity to Joy.

The next morning, his mother came with a smile and with heart-melting words. She said, “Joy! Trans people are the same as everyone else. You have to make your world, though there will be all odds and hardships. She watched videos on youtube and googled every bit of information she could lay her hands on the transgenders. 

Joy got his hormone replacement therapy. Joy now went by the name of Joyce. And now proudly called herself a SHE.

After many years, Joyce found a ray of sunshine to live in this world. Although she cringed away from the blow of the storm that had almost smothered her life.

“Gain knowledge, my child, Knowledge will enlighten your path.” Joyce’s mother wiped her misty eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around Joyce. “It is never too late.” 

Joyce cried.

Fortunately, the school was very supportive. So were the teachers. But bullying and isolation were still there by his fellow schoolmates. 

But this was just the beginning of a long and tortuous path to dignity. She was now struggling a lot with being accepted.

In school, they allowed Joyce to use the Nurse’s washroom so that things would run smoothly in school to cope up with the environment. Joyce adjusted things to sustain her life.

Once in a mall, while Joyce was with her parents she was asked to leave women’s toilet by a member of staff, who told her she had to use the disabled toilet, even though the lock was broken.

The experience left her feeling “violated” and “stripped of her identity”.

“Being transgender is not a disability, and she made her feel so small, it was a feeling of worthless. It felt like doing something wrong, like stealing,” 

“We are transgender and not thieves!” she screamed aloud. The core of her heart was crying “It is not my fault that I am a trans…”

Gradually, girls in the school got friendly with Joyce. She got Alpie as her bench-mate. They shared a beautiful friendship with Joyce till they finished the school. Joyce had always been an A+ student.

Joyce was lucky indeed to get a supportive family. She battled hard to survive and get an independent identity.

Sitting on the kitchen floor, her phone buzzed. It was Alpie! “Hey! Chef Joyce! Let us party hard and paint the town red! Finally, we both got selected for the Hotel Management!” They went to the trendiest pub in the town – TGIF. Both of them danced like there was no tomorrow. Dressed in their swag gowns they were looking gorgeous and happy. Alpie shouted at the top of her voice, “Cheers!”. Joyce raised her glass and gulped it down in one go. Alpie said, “Joyce! I want to tell you that i am really blessed to have you as a friend! Just the way you are! We will always be together!”Joyce was overwhelmed! Gradually her world was getting bigger. Her dreams were floating high on the waves. 

The next week the hotel management course started. Both Joyce and Alpie gave it their best shot. They kept to themselves and focussed on their studies. They came out with flying colours in the first two semesters. The third semester was attachment to various hotels. This time Alpie and Joyce got two different hotels. They were sad at being separated. The next day Joyce started her internship at the Mariott. As she entered the massive lounge, she saw an imposing figure, Bonn. She knew him to be a coursemate at the management institute but today he was looking very smart. Dressed in the black tuxedo of the intern Bonn was looking like a greek god. His prominent jaw line and confident smiling face attracted everyone’s attention. Joyce just couldn’t take her eyes off him. Soon they were put together in the hotel’s galley. Joyce became the chef’s assistant. Bonn was the purser. She was infatuated by Bonn. But she kept her feelings to herself and instead focussed on her profession.

Joyce was an example of what is possible when there is love and support from families, schools and communities. Thanks to them Joyce has always been a champion!

Transgenders are normal people. They eat the same food, breathe the same air and sleep just like any of us. They are not ALIENS! They might look scary with loud makeups but behind all that there is a human being trying to fit into society to loved by all.

Some like Joyce- they become educated. But many of them are shunned by their families and society. They run out of houses and beg on streets, collect Badhai’s or become sex workers. They start following a Guru. They are devotees of Buhuchara Mata, a version of the Indian Mother Goddess. 

Joyce finally completed her degree in hotel management.She stepped into the real world to struggle for her substance for her living. With a tall resume, she landed up for interviews in many companies. But due to her being a transgender she was refused every time.

After three rounds of successful interviews, Joyce was finally selected by a panel of HR managers who did not have issue with her being a transgender.

Joyce picked up her trade very fast and started making lip-smacking food and working equally good as any other. Her fan following grew at a rapid pace. Her colleagues accepted her. She was even allowed to use the Ladies Toilet! She remembered her mother’s word – it was one step at a time – however long and difficult the path may be. Her colleagues accepted her as she was and she felt blessed. Of course, the path ahead was even more difficult – of finding her true love – but she was confident that one day she would be able to find her life partner. She was going to meet Bonn again and was hopeful that sparks will fly!

There are lots of stigmas attached to one’s gender identity in our country. But these bitter experiences became Joyce’s courage and motivated her to reach her goal.

Joyce was happy! She was part of the change. Gradually, society and law were changing.

Joyce could live her life on her own terms. Like any of us, Joyce was hopeful to find true love. 

The fight still goes on.

If given the right opportunity transgenders might even turn out to be better than any other person performing the same job but it is sad that they are often not included.

We should embrace their differences instead of teaching them to discriminate against someone who is a little different. They are special, God made them special! So take care!

It doesn’t matter what others think about Joy/ Joyce. It is her body after all. Let it be her own choice to live in this world. All that she needs is love, support, and care. And like her other transgenders in the community too.

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