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Sarvesh's Journey - Childhood and Early Signs

A lot of people asked me how I actually figured out I am trans and that my gender identity does not align with my assigned gender.

I think internally I knew all along without knowing the term for it. There was no one instance when I realized my true gender but in fact multiple instances. Due to the societal stigma and internalized transphobia, even when those realizations would come. I would hide it and ignore my feelings.

As a small kid, when my mind was free from judgment, I used to display a lot of feminity.

Luckily my family was really great in this regard and my mother used to encourage everything that made me happy.

I still remember an instance when I was around 8 or 9 years old and just wanted to put on lipstick, but felt embarrassed because that is typically something "only girls do". But my mom happily applied lipstick on me, and I felt immeasurable joy at that moment.

Getting my makeup done just before a play when I performed in theatre brought me happiness.

Once my sister bought a blonde wig for a dance performance. I remember having worn the wig and thinking that I want such long "girly" hair. And during a party, in front of a room full of people wore the wig and acted feminine. Of course, the people had a great time, since they thought it is just a funny instance, and I felt a lot of inner peace.

However, as I grew up, there were more thoughts about what people will say, how my friends and the social group would react. At a time when LGBTQ identities were used as slurs, there was no way I could have allowed myself to accept that I am anything other than a cis-gendered heterosexual person.

There was a movie called "Bombay Talkies", a compilation of different short stories. In one of the short films, there was a young kid, who just wanted to wear feminine clothes and dance,

but societal stigmas were thrust upon them. They were instead made to play football instead. That just resonated with me. But a teacher who was my trusted advisor ridiculed that story and called it perverted.

The "cool" kids used to make fun of any boy who portrayed any feminity at all.

All of this led to a lot of internalized transphobia.

As I grew up some more and realized that my sexuality is not so straightforward, I told my best friend at the time that I might be bisexual. She had been brought up in an orthodox family. Her reaction was simply that of horror. She tried explaining to me that I could not go down this path because it is simply wrong. It is probably just a phase and I will go past it. I should just stop thinking about it.

All of this led to a lot of internalized homophobia.

Because of these internalized phobias, I actually managed to erase all the above happy instances from my mind, because I associated them with something that is wrong and something I can never do.

In the next post, I will discuss how I faced those internalized phobias.

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