As the queer movement started gaining momentum in India amidst the legal recognition of the third gender, Right to Privacy and decision of the Supreme Court to review Article 377, here is how Nitasha Biswas, the first Miss Transqueen India celebrated her triumphant moment.
India witnessed its first transgender beauty pageant in August 2017 where Biswas was declared the winner. The pageant, Miss Transqueen India, aimed to celebrate gender fluidity amidst efforts to bring forth India’s transgender community into the mainstream. The winner, in this scenario Biswas, will now represent India at the International Queen pageant in Thailand in March 2018.
In 2014, in a rather celebratory moment, India’s Supreme Court legally gave transgender people the right to identify as a third gender. However, that did not deter society from discriminating.
Biswas who did her schooling from St. Xavier’s Kolkata, completed her management studies to pursue a degree in fashion in Delhi.
Here is a peek into Biswas’ life, as was told to Media India Group.
What was the defining moment of your life?
I would say winning Miss Transqueen India was a defining moment. Winning this title added a definition to my struggle throughout the years; it was a redeeming moment. The day I realised that deep within, I have always been a woman, that day, however, remains the redefining moment of my life. That is the day, I realised who I was and it did not matter what anyone else would think.
How was the experience of coming out?
The experience was rather challenging and difficult, both for me and my family. When I finally realised that I have always wanted to be a woman, that I identify as a woman, that was a scary situation because I felt so different. It was weird but I was not hesitant because I was confident in my feelings. To me, gender is a construct, something very different from sex. I was born a man by sex, but I identify as a woman, by gender.
When I took the decision to start the hormonal treatment to be a woman, it was tough, physically and mentally but that was pain I was ready to take. When I was ready for my father to see me as a woman, I called him to fly down to Mumbai. I was sitting at a cafe waiting for him and he came in and did not recognise me. When I waved at him and called him, he was shocked. He could not believe his eyes. I made him understand that I have taken a rebirth as his late wife. It was only then he understood and said that I look like her, my mother. However, it was tough on my extended family. My relatives could never accept the change and stopped my cousins from meeting me, saying that they would get the wrong ideas from me, that I was a ‘fallen’ human.
What is your stance on empowerment?
To me, women empowerment is an important movement that is lacking even today. I want to use my title for good, for the betterment of society; if I identify as a woman I should not be stopped from enjoying equal rights as a woman because I chose to be a woman and was not born a woman. People need to be gender fluid and stop sticking to archetypes. They need to stop telling their children that it is not okay to be a man in a woman’s body or a woman in a man’s body. Women empowerment, in particular, is important to me, because till today, women remain the most oppressed.
I chose to participate in the pageant as I thought that this would help people to open their eyes to an important part of the society, that of transgenders. We exist and hence, to me, empowerment is mostly stretching beyond empowerment for a certain gender. It is about empowerment as a whole. To make people realise that transgenders also have the same rights as other humans.