I am not a gay man: Bollywood designer Swapnil Shinde comes out as Saisha, a trans woman
Bollywood designer (formerly) Swapnil Shinde, best known for dressing A-list Bollywood actors including the likes of Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Kiara Advani, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Anushka Sharma, Madhuri Dixit, Sunny Leone, Tara Sutaria, Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Hina Khan, recently took to his Instagram to come out as a transwoman with a long post, sharing pictures of his new appearance and name - Saisha Shinde. Explaining her post and name, she captioned, “Here we go 2021. P.s : Saisha means a meaningful life and I plan to make mine an exceptionally meaningful one”. Saisha shared how she was bullied for being different, writing, “Irrespective of your origin, there will always be something that reminds you of your childhood. For me, it takes me back to the kind of loneliness that aches, to pressures that pushed me into solitude and the chaos of confusion that grew every moment. All through school and college, while the boys outside tormented me because I was different, the internal pain was far worse. I felt suffocated living a reality that I knew wasn’t mine, yet one that I had to stage everyday because of societal expectations and norms.”
She continued how it was at fashion designing school that she managed to accept her truth, “It was only in my early 20s at NIFT where I found the courage to accept my truth; I truly bloomed. I spent the next few years believing that I was attracted to men because I was gay, but it was only 6 years ago that I finally accepted to myself, and today that I accept to you,” She clarified, “I’m not a gay man. I am a Transwoman.”
Saisha also took to her Instagram stories to share how great it felt to be addressed as a woman and not a man, “The sheer agony of hearing - sir for all those years! Never thought this would ever be a reality but here we are chasing our dreams. My team started saying good morning ‘Ma’am’ about a month ago with utmost pride.”
The designer rose to fame when she designed costumes for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion (2008), and from then on her designs became an instant hit and she was dressing A-listers for red carpets, award shows, magazine covers and even designing costumes for movies, most recently Kiara Advani’s look in the Laxxmi song, Burj Khalifa. In a 2010 interview with the Indian Express, she had admitted that her work was often criticised, sharing, “Critics are highly judgemental of my work. They call me the ‘Britney Spears of the fashion industry’ for breaking the rules!” She also appeared on the internationally acclaimed Project Runway TV series’ 14 season in 2015 where she placed sixth and was judged by celebrity judges Heidi Klum, Marie Claire creative director Nina Garcia, and fashion designer Zac Posen.