My friend Yashaswini usually takes up the controversial topics. But I requested her to let me do this article. There was a strong reason for it. Though I am not a pro- or anti- LGBT movement, when someone is being targeted for their ideals, my conscience does not let me look the other way, particularly when the person is from my own community of journalists. This is because I know how it feels to be targeted. Like I have mentioned in another article I am being targeted for being a single woman and a South Indian.
Meet Naaz Joshi, the trans-woman from India, who has been making headlines for being the first person from her gender to make it to the cover of a magazine. Naaz has been targeted by people from her own community – a top individual in the hierarchy has put her foot down that if Naaz attends any event, she would not be attending it. The problem lies in the fact that Naaz is a Page 3 writer from Kinner Today and she needs to attend the events for her job.
I would like you all to watch this video to get the background before reading the interview: https://youtu.be/lOKXlCY17yY.
How was it as a child?
My childhood was no different than other trans-genders. I grew up singing songs of late Nazia Hassan, like Disco deewane… and Aap jaisa koi… But my childhood was snatched at the tender age of six by my uncle. He physically abused me not once but for years. I could not say much to the world. Students at school, cousins, neighborhood all used to call me hijra. My parents asked me then behave like a man. How could I behave like a man when I was not? I always felt I am a woman and that contradiction would easily be visible in the way I conducted myself.
When did you realize you are of a different gender than what you were born with?
I as such did not realize it for long, till my mustache and beard started growing. I always thought I was a woman, no matter what. But when I saw these physical changes I cried. I would wax them immediately. I hated these traits of being a man in me. I felt uncomfortable wearing manly clothes and my dressing style started changing. I started wearing very tight t shirts with colourful denims. I even started piercing and wore accessories like rings and bangles at times.
What was your parents’ reaction?
When I accepted myself that I am a trans-gender. I became more confident. Suddenly a woman who used to cry when her teachers would ask her questions in front of the class got the power. She was then ready for anything even parents’ disagreement. They started beating me up every day on something or the other. They started stopping me from wearing what I wanted to and their asking me to get married to a woman was troubling me. Economically I was never sound because my parents never supported me. If I decided to leave my parents’ home then I could not find any place to stay. But my parents didn’t have much time for me and they disowned me mentally. Today also I stay with them but it has been many years that I haven’t spoken to my dad. My mom too nags me but I speak to her rarely too. I have three dogs and I talk to them. I share with them my happiness and my sorrow.
What do you want to do as far as career is concerned? Fashion designing or journalism?
I quit designing long ago because it takes in a lot of investment and I am not financially strong. I did meet Mr. Suneel Sethi from Fashion Designing Council of India (FDCI) at Okhla years ago but I did not get the membership because I… Don’t know the reason. Mr. Sethi only can answer it better. Besides, their terms are so strange. They say we need recommendation letters from two senior designers of the council. Come on why would someone recommend us till we are close to them?
Today I teach modelling and acting and I am happy because here I don’t have to face the dirty politics of fashion industry.
I want to be a journalist because through the power of my pen I want to show the real faces of so called celebrities, who are insecure and do not have confidence in themselves. I want to uncover the masks of people who show that they are fairy God mothers or fathers but in real they are just exploiting juniors for money and sex.
If you get a job in the mainstream media, would you accept it?
Yes certainly. In fact whoever reads this please hire me, because I really wish that trans-gender people in our country are always looked down upon as just worthy of mere begging, clapping or prostitution. I want to emerge as an inspiration to other trans-women in India. I want to tell them sisters not to feel low and lonely today. I am with them and I can understand and talk about their problems to the government. As a journalist, I would like to visit every one with power be it politicians or TV stars or sports men and ask them to support our community, which has been categorized as Other Backward Classes (OBC) by Supreme Court of India.
What are the common problems faced by gutsy trans-people like you?
We are the object of envy of everyone. In Delhi page 3, there is a cross dresser and she instructed everyone that she doesn’t want to see Naaz anywhere. I always speak the truth. Many trans-genders envy me. An ex-male model who is friends with a trans-sexual, who did two reality shows, threatens me and goes to media saying that she was the first cover girl. If she was the cover girl, why she doesn’t have proof? I was featured on Tehelka and it was none of my fault. So why does she have so much insecurity. How can you compare a 60 year old third gender and a 30 year old third gender? Both are famous and why the hell can’t they digest that Naaz is also one of them? I am not here to snatch anyone’s work. I am here to do mine so kindly let me do it peacefully. At times, I face eve-teasing and men trying to hit at me on social media, but that doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I really feel that any of these trans-genders can get me killed because by each passing achievement their jealousy is increasing.
You have gone through surgery and hormonal treatments. Have you checked with the doctors if they might have some detrimental effect on your health later in life and how to deal with it? I mean, we are talking about hormones here. It’s a known fact that menopausal women going for hormone therapy and have encountered osteoporosis.
Yes, you are absolutely correct. Hormone therapy that we take often gives mood swings. I suffered from breast cancer. But for any dream, any price is less. Yes, I understand the side-effects of such medication but these side-effects mean nothing to me.
How do you think they can be solved?
In the west, trans-genders have ample money. What we try to achieve through hormonal therapy they achieve it by surgeries. They get facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation surgery. The only way out is if these modern surgeries can be cheaper in India we will not have to go for so much hormone.
You are not married. But do you intend to marry?
Never! I had problems with my ex-boyfriend. And looking at those problems I don’t think that relationships are worth such headaches and tension. As it is my life is full of worries I don’t want to add to my worries.
What does the future hold for you?
No one knows the future. What I planned didn’t happen. And what I didn’t plan happened. I want to have an optimistic approach. I hope that all my problems come to an end before I end. For that I want media to talk about it. I guess writing about Nirbhaya after she left the world is not more worth than giving a little life to people like us. Media has the power. Talk about our unemployment even after having degrees from NIFT, Pearl Academy and Institute Of Management Technology. I need justice. Please do not look at me for gender I am. Please look at the talent I possess.