When did you first identify yourself as a transwoman?
When I was 12, I had realised that I was different and trapped in the wrong body. I felt that my body wasn’t justifying my soul. I felt trapped. When I used to look at myself in the mirror, I wondered about being born as a woman biologically.
Did your parents support you when you came out with your true identity?
Initially they were not. I belong to a conservative Punjabi family where children don’t have a say in anything. I was born and brought up in Bihar and even women were not allowed to express themselves there at that time. So, for me, coming out was very difficult. Dad was very dominating and so, I used to feel very scared.
Initially, it was difficult for them but I feel blessed that they finally accepted me for the way I am.
How did you begin your career in the entertainment industry?
I was fascinated by fashion since childhood. I used to watch films and fashion shows on Fashion TV. Seeing the models walk the ramp, I wished to be a model someday.
I came to Mumbai in 2009. They say it is a city of dreams. And everyone’s dreams actually come true here, sooner or later. I also came to Mumbai with a small dream of becoming a model. But more than that, it was a fight for my identity. Even though I wasn’t a biological woman at that time, but I wanted to live my feminity.
I started doing events and shows. Slowly, I started to get modelling assignments. I even joined LGBTQ community. When I joined the transgender community, I realised how the entire community is a victim of discrimination. People have always rejected us, be it work opportunity or family acceptance. So, I realised that I need to work towards the community and myself as an individual.
What kind of struggles have you faced in this industry?
Rejection. Whenever I used to go for auditions, people always questioned my identity. Can womanhood be defined biologically only? Motherhood has no gender.
Whenever I used to go for audition, they used to reject me saying that it is only for females. I don’t understand the term ‘Only for females.’
When I went to get a job, they rejected me after seeing my certificate. I was rejected only because I am a transwoman. So, I face such rejections all the time, especially in the glamour industry.
No matter how progressive our entertainment industry is, it is still stereotypical towards transgender community.
When we work with people, they say things consciously or unconsciously which might be hurtful.
If I tell you that it happens to me every day? When you are unique, you draw people’s attention. I know I am unique. I feel that I am very blessed that I birthed as a human. I feel blessed that I have the powers to think and understand. I feel blessed that I have lived two lives in one lifetime as I have lived as a boy and a girl.
Yes, I have to face a lot of things. We can’t change people’s mentality. We can change one person’s mind but we can’t change the whole world. The one thing we can do is to make them understand that we do exist, we are also humans and we also have an identity. We can ask them to not discriminate based on our gender or color.
So, yes, I have faced a lot of rejection and bullying.
Tell us about your work.
I did ad shoot for Grazia Magazine and Cosmopolitan Magazine. In 2017, I walked the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week where Laxmi Narayan Tripathi was the showstopper.
I am the brand ambassador of Miss Trans Queen India beauty pageant.
Recently, I have done a film titled ‘Pledge to Protect’. I have done an item number in it.
I have also done a lot of web series and TV serials. I have done crime series like Savdhaan India and Crime Patrol. I am also a motivational speaker at TedX.
I recently did a music video titled ‘Sambhal Jao’. It will be released by Mr. Qaseem Haider Qaseem.
When will the song release?
The teaser will be released next week. It is a very nice Sufi romantic song. It will be a treat for people who love romantic songs. It was beautifully shot in Goa. Both the location and the song are mesmerising.
How was your experience working with the crew?
It was a good experience working with Qaseem Haider Qaseem and Nandini Singh.
What kind of roles would you like to play in the future?
I am a versatile actor. I like to do challenging roles. I would like to do women oriented and trans oriented roles.
People in the industry are now opening up about their identity now. Recently, fashion designer Swapnil Shinde came out and identified himself as a trans woman. When you hear such news, how do you feel?
I feel good. Even the government has supported us by recognizing us as a third gender. So, society is changing.
When I came out of the closet, I felt too good. I want to congratulate Saisha (Swapnil Shinde) for beginning her new journey. We both belong to the trans community, so the sisterhood will always be there.