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“Growing up trans means a relentless othering”

Karnataka’s first transgender doctor tells her story of transition and celebrating self-love
For Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, growing up transperson in India means a relentless othering
Published on Jan 16, 2021 06:49 PM IST
ByTrinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Delhi

I was 16 years old when I stepped into an operating theatre for the first time – a sanctum where the life of a three-month-old child was being saved. In that space, clothes didn’t come gendered, roles weren’t binary, and all that mattered was skill. Illustrating and writing were the only other spaces that gave me as much peace. That bridging the worlds of activism, content creation and medicine one day would become both my privilege and burden, was unknown to me. Nonetheless, such is my lived reality, and I’m unsure I would have it any other way.

Growing up transperson in India means a relentless othering, even more so at the intersections of caste, class, religion and disability. To be trans is to thwart most notions of “normal” including those established by the profession I’ve chosen. Medicine has never existed outside of social convention and morality, and those practising it have for long approached trans people from a paternalistic, pathologising cis gaze.

Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju is a popular queer influencer on Instagram
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Hope for a new world

“That bridging the worlds of activism, content and medicine would become my privilege and burden was unknown to me” ­—Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju

As a roller coaster of a year ended, I stepped into 2021 assisting a caesarian section. A new life breathed its first as billions of people woke up to a new year, hoping for more certainty, reminding us all of the unbreakable spirit of humankind.

Marian Wright Edelman put it succinctly – “You can’t be what you can’t see”. While many of us didn’t have images to aspire to, we have been privileged to turn our narratives into examples for generations of gender non-conforming children. I can only hope that this is the beginning of a shift in Indian culture as we know it, the beginning of neither tolerance nor acceptance, but celebration.

From HT Brunch, January 17, 2021

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