Sub-Standard Deviation

Anamika writes under a pen-name about her experience as a person whose gender and sexuality does not fall into normative binaries. Inspired by an earlier T5E article, “Standard Deviation”, it is a brave personal story that should make every insti student reconsider the impact of the sometimes insensitive comments we both make and let slide everyday.

Note:
1. T5E Op-Eds are written prose pieces which express the opinions of an author, and are not to be considered T5E’s views.
2. T5E is a student-run publication, editorially independent from the IIT Madras administration.

Important information for anyone interested:

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“Hello. You do not know me. Even the people around me don’t really know me. Because I have a secret, something I’ve kept to my world for a very long time; something I wish to reveal. But not confess; that makes it sound criminal. I need closure and for that, I must be true to myself. 
So here goes”

– Standard Deviation, T5E (July 4, 2011)

I am transgender.

Yes, you read that right, I do not fit into society’s gender norms. I was born male but I identify as a woman. And to add to it, I am bisexual; meaning I‘ve had feelings for both men and women. I do not ‘admit’ to being transgender or bisexual because it is not a crime to admit. When I write this article hoping to get my message across to you, I know that for some of you, this may start to sound like the start of a joke. It is amidst all these confusion, where my days, weeks and months blurred together, that I lost myself to depression.

I have been denying this part of myself all my life. I can confidently say that I have learned more about my religion than most people because I thought that religion could help me conceal this part of me forever. I have thought of talking about this to my parents ever since I started questioning myself. But like any other kid in our conservative culture, I held my ground. The only conversation I had regarding this was a logical monologue with God to strike up a bargain that if I woke up as a woman the next day, I would do whatever he required me to.

As soon as I had privacy and learned how to delete web history, I started learning more and more about this part of me and found out that it is not something that can be suppressed.

After a couple of years, I understood that religion is not my cup of tea. My next distraction was books, movies, hobbies — anything I could get my hands on. I thought that it was maybe just a phase. For me back then, being homosexual, bisexual, transgender or anything along those lines was one of the biggest sins I could commit. There was no way that I, someone who had always been in good standing with my parents and teachers could have indulged in a perversion like that. It was around this time that we got an internet connection. As soon as I had privacy and learned how to delete web history, I started learning more and more about this part of me and found out that it is not something that can be suppressed. When I was sixteen, I knew that if I need options, I should carefully plan my future. And equally importantly, I knew that I had to stay away from my parents to figure out this part of myself. For the next two years, the daily highlights were nothing other than studying and educating myself regarding sexuality and gender.

After I came to insti, my opinions changed drastically. For the first time, I found people who believed that belonging to LGBTQ community was not a sin, even though they deemed it shameful. Until then the people with whom I could have a dialogue on the topic was in online forums with people far away.

After I came to insti, my opinions changed drastically. For the first time, I found people who believed that belonging to LGBTQ community was not a sin, even though they deemed it shameful. Until then the people with whom I could have a dialogue on the topic was in online forums with people far away. In insti I had healthier debates and conversations on this subject. I found hobbies, games and people with whom I could forget this part of myself. Pretending was never difficult for me. I developed skills over the years that helped me hide all of this from my friends. I continued to read more and more about gender identity and sexuality. I read about the disturbing experiences of trans people who did not come out of closet and led a miserable life. I had to accept that I could never hold myself in that position. I had kept these feelings to myself for so long that; approximately one year ago, when I had more academic pressure than I’ve ever experienced before, everything crashed on top of me.

I slept more than 16 hours a day during these cycles of despair and misery, a couple of times even stayed nearly 48 hours in bed with nothing more than a bottle of water. I used to wake up at 4 AM to do a dangerous climb to my hostel rooftop where I was sure I could be alone and get fresh air. I contemplated suicide several times.

Coping with this was difficult. I went through eating disorders. Sometimes eating too much and sometimes not at all eating. I slept more than 16 hours a day during these cycles of despair and misery, a couple of times even stayed nearly 48 hours in bed with nothing more than a bottle of water. I used to wake up at 4 AM to do a dangerous climb to my hostel rooftop where I was sure I could be alone and get fresh air. I contemplated suicide several times. But when I thought of my parents, I could never take a step off the edge. After a couple of weeks, my misery grew and reached an unbearable height. On a Thursday morning, I decided to end everything. I dragged myself out of bed, took a bath and cleaned up my messy room. I wrote a letter addressed to my parents and my friends explaining the problems I faced and why I needed to do this. I called my mom and talked for a few minutes, after which I headed out and had my first proper meal in 4 days. I bought a pack of blades and on my way, I coincidentally ran into one of my friends. He sensed something was wrong and he reassured me that he would help me with whatever problem I faced. He did not inquire about the issue since he was sure I didn’t want to tell him. After a long discussion, I went to my room and reconsidered everything. I did not and still do not think that what I did that day was impulsive or stupid. Yet, after that painful conversation, I saw hope.

I bought a pack of blades and on my way, I coincidentally ran into one of my friends. He sensed something was wrong and he reassured me that he would help me with whatever problem I faced. He did not inquire about the issue since he was sure I didn’t want to tell him. After a long discussion, I went to my room and reconsidered everything. I did not and still do not think that what I did that day was impulsive or stupid. Yet, after that painful conversation, I saw hope.

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