Gender identity, much like sexual orientation (or sexual identity), is still something that remains obscure; obscure not in the means of how we choose it, but how we tend to accept it. Various scenarios over time have shown that our society can be progressive, but some have proved just the opposite – we seem to be in constant search of a means to prove that we can accept our fellow human beings for who they are – without bias and without judgment; instances that reassure our faith in humanity, or rather our capacity to be a well functioning society that will soon come close to meeting our ideal goals. On understanding this, we recently saw one such scenario presently; the Lakme fashion week sees its first transgender model walking their ramp – Anjali Lama.
Accepting Who You Are
We tend to have no choice in the matter of the gender we are born into, initially. Advances in science, technology and medicine have grown to show that one need not stick to their original sex and can, if need may be, have it changed; the stigma attached to this still remains nonetheless. It is often confusing, when your mind tells you to act one way, but your body tries to prove the other – some people do not fall into the standard gender roles that psychology tries to teach us. Born Navin Waiba in Nuwakot (Nepal), to a farming family, Anjali faced similar issues as well,
People would often comment, “He’s a boy, why’s he acting like a girl?”… I tried to conform, I dressed like a boy. It was only when I left home for Kathmandu that I even found out that there were other people like me.
While it might seem easy to convince yourself of who you are, it is a task that proves to be harder than it looks. Being social creatures, we often identify ourselves based on recognition – or, in some cases, social acceptance. This goes on to define who we are, and it is important that you are accepted for who you are, rather than become what you are accepted to be. Anjali speaks about such a scenario,
I came out in 2005, and it was a torturous experience. I don’t want to repeat the cruel names I was called. When my family found out, they said I was dead to them. Only my mother kept contact, she gave me the strength to stand by my decision… My friends told me I was not meant to be stuck in Nepal, that I should try to become an international supermodel.
Paving The Path Towards Stardom
Becoming a model is not all about the looks. Believe it or not, there is quite a bit of work that goes into becoming a part of the industry – starting from how you carry yourself, to the way you walk, express yourself, and so much more. Anjali, the divine offering that her name proclaims her to be, was not quite ready to be accepted into the world of glamour so easily. Having tried out for the Lakme week summer resort in 2016, she found herself being rejected; this had nothing to do with her identity – in most cases no one knew of it till she actually told them. She goes on to talk about how she worked towards claiming a spot on the Lakme fashion week ramp,
I remember feeling quite helpless and even considered giving up on fashion. But I decided to try again and this time, I did my research. I watched videos of models walking the ramp, changed my make-up and wardrobe. I practiced posing in front of the mirror so I would be able to present myself to the judges well. And it worked.
It is instances like this that we had previously mentioned; instances that we search for. Her gender, or prior gender roles, had nothing to do with her acceptance or rejection (in the previous effort); the results from both times stand proof of this. It is moments like these, free of bias, where we are all treated by the same standards, that we must look for.
The Divine Offering
The divine offering, apart from life, has now become the capability to express outwardly who we think we are, and the person we think we are meant to be. It is not for society to decide what our particular gender role is; moreover, we have the power to transition as we please.
While such individuals being embraced by society is the status quo we ought to strive for, first, we just need to learn to embrace who we are.