Mumbai college crowns transgender student ‘Rose Queen’
Anjali Siroya won this year’s title of ‘Rose Queen’ at Matunga’s Ramnarain Ruia College earlier this month. But, the 20-year-old mass media student is no ordinary ‘Rose Queen’. Siroya identifies herself as a transgender.
“I am happy I could do well in the competition and ultimately win it,” said Siroya, who was known as Ajay until two years ago when she finally came out about her identity to her parents. She became the college’s first transgender to participate in the competition.
“What matters more than winning is the title – Rose Queen. As a trans-person, I was initially apprehensive about whether or not I would be able to participate, especially in the female category, said Siroya, but added that the organisers were inclusive in their approach.
The contest consists of multiple rounds that requires participants to display their literary and performance skills, a photo session and ramp walk, followed by a Q and A session. Siroya qualified in all selection rounds to be finally crowned winner. “In the literary round, we had to write a letter ‘to the future me’. I wrote all about my transformation from Ajay to Anjali, which itself was such a great process,” she said. Siroya lives with her parents in Chembur. “I was brought up as a boy until I turned 18. I always knew I had the soul of a woman, but coming out to my parents did not happen easily,” Siroya said.
She said some of her friends and cousins who knew about her gender identity often teased her with the name Anjali. “My mother first thought they were teasing me about a girl, but with time, I had to tell my parents I had a female soul trapped in a male body,” Siroya said. “My parents were initially apprehensive, but gradually accepted me.”
Dr Pradeep Waghmare, the chairperson of the Vidyarthi Pratinidhi Mandal (VPM) that organises Rose Day, called the contest’s inclusive approach a step forward. “We were quite open to Siroya participating. The college and students showed their support, which was a great thing,” said Waghmare.