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Becoming a man

As told to sibi arasu | Updated on January 24, 2018

Still in the dark: I think of myself as a man, but I still don’t feel safe in a lonely alley, says Priyan. Photo: GRN Somashekar   -  BL

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The life and love of a female-to-male transperson

Growing up in Coimbatore district, unlike other girls my age, I was never shy about wearing really short shorts or taking part in a running or cycling race with boys. It wasn’t like I felt odd or anything, I just knew it was how I was.

I have two brothers and a sister, and for the longest time I insisted on wearing my brothers’ clothes rather than my sister’s, and my mother would get very angry.

I have always known my partner G and we have been through everything together. Everyone sensed we were different, but it was a small town and maybe they didn’t know how to react. Our families decided to get us married, even though we were hell bent against it. After I turned 19, they married me off to a garment contractor in Tiruppur. G was married to someone in the same town. That was the first time I was not in touch with her, not even a letter or phone call for a whole year. I became pregnant against my wishes, and when I went home to my parents, I refused to return to my husband. G and I got back in touch and decided to run away.

The Tamil weekly Kumudam had a story about a lesbian couple in Palakkad who received help from a women’s group after running away from home. We decided to do the same. I had to leave my year-old baby behind because we didn’t know how things would turn out. In Palakkad, the group was helpful and put us in touch with Sangama in Bengaluru, where I now work as an accountant. But not before our families traced us with the help of the police and confined us forcibly at home for a whole year.

I managed to start meeting G again after I took up a typewriting job near her house. We moved to Bengaluru in 2005 and live with my son and her two children. Bengaluru has been good to us. In the early days, the people at Sangama took care of us. I could finally dress like I wanted to and be myself. Our respective husbands have filed for divorce and have, more or less, let us be. I took up computer classes and got a driving licence too. G too found work and we have a small place now.

As a female-to-male transperson, it was not easy for me to find others like me initially. Now, thankfully, I have and it’s a great support system. But even within queer politics, it is always the male-to-female transgendered person who gets noticed, whether by NGOs or within the community. Somehow, patriarchy seems entrenched in these spaces too. Even though I think of myself as a man, I still don’t feel safe walking down a dark alley — that’s just something I am unable to change.

I consider myself a transperson and not a transman, because I have not been able to get my sex reassignment surgery (SRS) done. I’m worried whether it will impact my son’s future. I have also not officially changed my given name, and for official purposes, such as getting a ration card or a passport, I’m not Charu Priyan. Even my mother, who knows about G and me, doesn’t know that I’m a transperson. At my parents’ house, I go back to being a woman. When it comes to my 13-year-old child, while I dress the way I want to, I’m still his amma and not father. I’d much rather wait until he can understand what I feel and what I have gone through.

Just the other day, I asked him how he would feel if I became a man. He said, “Why should you, you are my mother?”

This is the biggest dilemma in my life but, as of now, we are together and we are happy.



Published on January 16, 2015

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