As part of our Freedom Series, Devanik Saha interviews Nitasha Biswas, Miss International Queen 2018. Edited excerpts from the interview.
“Tackling one’s mental health is one of the biggest challenges for any LGBTQ+ person. Given India’s societal stereotypes, accepting your own gender identity and bodily changes is a difficult task,” Nitasha Biswas tells The Health Collective.
What was it like as a child? Can you tell us a bit?
I always had in mind from a very young age I wanted to change myself as I (had)… gender dysphoria. It was definitely a hell (of a) lot of struggle, but yes my vision and zeal were clear. As a child, of course it was difficult for me to understand my surroundings, and cope up with the peer group as I could never connect with them…hence it was a struggle completely….
What are three things you would want your younger self (or anyone in the community) to know?
1. Believe in yourself and your identity. Roads will be tough, but crossing them won’t be hard once you are on it (the path)
2. Self containment of what you do is very important
3. A psychologist’s role is a very important part in transition, as she helps you know more (about) you. That guidance (after) sharing your mind with the psychologist is very important whosoever wants to transition.
How did you manage the gender transition? How did your psychologist help you?
Well, a psychologist is a very important person in transitioning. As she prepares you…how to be yourself. It’s a lot more to do with the mind, about understanding yourself, and feeling your real self. I remember doing a job at an e-commerce firm and starting my transition with that money…It was a hell of a lot of struggle with time!
How did the societal biases and stereotypes affect your mental health?
Well, of course overcoming that…was a tough phase. As the world doesn’t know why (or what) it is to be me. It’s very easy to pass a comment or judge someone, not knowing what the person has being through. But with time I understood that I had to live, I had to accept myself first, perhaps (even) embracing my life.
Who has been your support system and how important has that been?
Definitely my family stood by me at a later stage, and my father supported me a lot. I feel emotional support and stability is the most important…
How do you plan (or do you plan) to use your celebrity status for changing stereotypes about the trans community?
I feel it’s a big responsibility to change the future of my sisters…that is only possible when I get opportunities to work in mainstream Bollywood movies, reach places to sensitise people about us — that we are all are humans at the end of the day! It’s one world, and all are equal.
Watch out for more in our special series on The Health Collective. And don’t forget: We want to hear from you, and include you in our conversations and coverage. Do reach out with your thoughts and comments.