Sumair Khan

Pakistan

An Untold Story – From Negligence to Revelation

Trans man / 23-29 / Muslim

“Failing to cope with the dysphoria I face, my only refuge is pretending to be a eunuch instead of a woman that I appear to the world; another painful attempt to stifle my voice from declaring my true identity to the world – to die once more, to lose myself once again.”

Being a transgender isn’t a choice, transitioning is!

Nothing in the world can compel people to resort to the act of transition, but becoming a transgender is not the same thing either. Whether you chose to transit or you opt to defer it (for reasons of your own) a transgender person is still “trans.” Even when one never chooses to medically transit, they never cease to be transgender either. They are born with a ‘distinct identity’ – a different sex, contrary to the gender their appearance identifies them with.

I was born a transsexual, for it was how I was supposed to be. I never considered transsexualism a “curse,” much against the popular belief neither degraded it to be loathed or be afraid of. For we are REAL people who contribute an equal voice to the symphony of human life, adding another vibrant stroke to the colorful rainbow of humanity and breathing among myriad others with the same color, caste, race, or creed – not originating from MARS or NEPTUNE, nor are we some species form the world hitherto unknown! We’re a legitimate part of the grand mix, for we contribute to the diversity that makes life beautiful and worth living for everyone.

Being a transsexual was never a choice I had, but becoming aware of me as one, I did not grow up to scorn it nor I became resentful towards it. And yes! I was not afraid of being one too… I have NO desire to “wish it away,” nor do I curse my creator for molding me differently. I feel special and I feel as blessed as any other human soul on planet Earth. I am a confident individual with beautiful dreams and aspirations to excel in my deeds, to inspire others and to lead through my legacy. I want to be an inspiration and I am not afraid to dream. I have a successful story to share.

But my blissful story had a twist to it. An unusual twist… that eventually shaped me and helped me evolve as the stronger, resolute human being I am, who believes in his/her strengths and who never gives up in the face of adversity – come what may!

Born in a family of traditional Pukhtoon (Pathan) man and a beautiful mother, I was received with open arms with the preconceived notions of what being a daughter entitles. Growing up, I was supposed to wear feminine clothing and behave in a customary feminine manner, both making me feel utterly miserable. Ultimately, without consciously being aware of what I truly felt, I used to throw tantrums, play sick, and refused to dress up to visit relatives and places.

However, I was not fully aware of what was happening to me… I didn’t understand why I was so angry all the time. All I could reason out at that young age was the fact that I wanted to dress up in boys’ attires (always preferring to wear trousers and a T-shirt, to the conventional girls’ dresses). I hated anything and everything that sounded or seemed feminine, be it the dresses or the toys (I preferred toolsets over Barbie dolls).

But as I grew older and went on to study in higher grades, I began to dress a little more girly, mainly as an attempt to please my mother. After all, I was born and raised in a conventional Islamic family, following a strict code of conduct with respect to the norms of the society in general and gender-based in particular and where conforming to the social and cultural NORMS did matter more than one’s wishes and desires.

On a more personal level, I felt attracted to girls from an early age, but was unable to completely identify myself with the lesbian label. I had my first crush at 14, but I never felt comfortable being labeled as a lesbian. I always felt like I was never truly being myself. As time passed, I started to feel more and more convinced that I was not a lesbian, no matter how I felt towards that fairer sex. Not that I don’t feel any affinity towards girls; I actually LOVE girls which was why I felt awkward towards the female gender.

That I was a boy was clear, though, in my mind without any hint of doubt, regardless of how my family or society viewed me, owing to my obvious appearance. I was thoroughly convinced that I was a boy who unfortunately looked like a girl. I went through my life with this thought pattern until last year. And then came the part when everything CHANGED.

This was when I stepped forward to undertake an unchangeable decision, when I decided to become a transman. When pushing all thoughts, worries, and anxieties behind, I declared who I actually felt I was! I cannot say I had feelings like everyone else. To me, it was just a mathematical equation – this was what the male gender is supposed to act, think, and work like and it was all I ever wanted to do. Hence, my preference to identify myself as a male member of the society. Of course, this major decision of mine had its own share of issues and problems as this was a TABBOO – a terrible thing to believe or follow, especially if you are born in a TRADITIONAL, ethnic and Muslim background!

Growing up and living in a conservative and rigid Islamic society and Muslim family, I always have had my due share of fears and insecurities. I never dared to explore myself, due to those fears. I also believed that LGBTIQ is against nature, due to indoctrination which provides no room or space whatsoever for LGBTIQ issues. I didn’t have the courage to find the answers to questions that were being raised constantly in my mind. It pained me inside whenever I tried to reason myself, my identity, and I died every day during that phase concerning my gender identity, not to mention that I faced severe criticism and objections related to my newly acquired gender identity and lifestyle. But I was not the only victim in this story…my family also had to respond to questions full of hatred and spite.

My life between the ages of 14 and 18 were the most difficult ones. I began to hate myself, which seemed devoid of any aim, any goal or an inspiring purpose. My life came to a halt without any ray of hope and I was stuck at the end of a tunnel that lead to a dead end. I suffered from high levels of depression and anxiety… I contemplated suicide as my ultimate end. Many friends left me during those days and the one who hung around also seemed rather uncomfortable. My student life can be easily termed a phase where I became an easy target or victim of gender roles. Studying about sexual minorities’ rights increased my frustration. It appeared to me that being a lesbian/gay was easier, as compared to being a transsexual.

Why?

Because they didn’t have to struggle with themselves on a daily basis. My life became more difficult and I made numerous suicide attempts, which were luckily unsuccessful. However, the mere act of trying to take my life made me realize the importance of life. After passing through that miserable phase of dying in and out every single day, I gathered the strength and courage. I vowed I would never face that scenario again and I would never allow any person, any notion of the world, to despise myself and drive to the point of no-return. I overcame what seemed earlier a never-ending nightmare, which killed me every day. My struggle has not ended…it has JUST COMMENCED. And I know that this isn’t going to be an easy journey, but it’s also not an impossible one EITHER.
Nothing in the world can bring me down. I won’t give up! I won’t fail!

What started as a journey full of unanswered questions – Who am I? Was I supposed to be a boy? What went wrong? How did I get this far without realizing something was not right? How can I fix it? Will people think I’m a freak? What am I supposed to do now? etc – led to the path of discovery and hope. I did what any other curious young mind would do. I searched, I questioned, I asked and I explored.

Let me admit that this journey was actually what I needed to have taken up for I actually found many precious elements such as courage, and hope, and faith, and confidence – to name a few. I found out that I’m not alone. There are millions of us. I found out that being transgender isn’t WEIRD or ABNORMAL. On contrary, it is part of who you are and who I am.

To sum up… I am resolute and I have taken up this decision of my life to live it the way I want. And yes! I will not allow being discriminated against and condemning for who I am. This is really what I want. I am taking a stand. For myself, and in support of the LGBTIQ community! To be the ray of hope you never found! To be the legacy that you sought!