Though the Supreme Court, as back as in 2014, had accorded the "third gender" status for transgender community as opposed to their identifying themselves as either males or females earlier, progressive changes have majorly come about in the last one year only.
With Kochi Metro employing transgender, to West Bengal and Kerala appointing transgender judges to India hosting its first Miss Transqueen beauty pageant, India has come a long way.
Speaking of one-of-its-kind beauty pageant is Miss TransQueen India (MTQI) Nitasha Biswas. The competition covered 10 states and auditioned over 1,500 transwomen to choose the final 16.
The 26-year-old Nitasha Biswas from Kolkata won the prestigious title of Miss TransQueen India, 2017 and to know more about her journey towards this victory, Catch News spoke to her.
Modeling is generally considered a difficult career to pursue. Chosen as India's First TransQueen, how has the journey been for you?
This life has been great for me. From seeing days of non acceptance to the world praising me, my journey has been exactly the way I designed it.
At quite a young age, I figured out that I was experiencing gender dysphoria, a condition of feeling one's emotional and psychological identity (as male or female) to be opposite to one's biological sex.
My mother passed away when I was in 6th grade. So, upon realising what I was going through, I shared my feelings with my dad and the elder brother. My dad has always been very strict and so he took his own time to understand. However, my brother has been very supportive and has stood as a pillar by my side.
When I moved to Delhi from Kolkata, I started working at Jabong. Since I had already decided that I will go for a transition surgery, I started doing double shifts to save money for my transitional therapies, surgeries etc.
Having been associated with the fashion industry for a several years, I realised that many people who are behind the camera in this field belong to LGBTQ. It was then that I began asking myself that why can't I be in front of the camera. Why am I styling others and not walking the ramp myself?
That was it, and since January I started preparing and grooming myself for MTQI.
Going back in time, what has been the most difficult phase for you till now?
After I lost my mother, I always used to tell my father that I am her reincarnation. When I was in Delhi and started transitioning, a lot of my good friends left me. People who were very close to me turned their back on me because they considered transitioning a taboo. On the other hand, it indeed is a life changing process. I suffered several mood swings and went through depression.
Despite being alone, I always stood my ground and kept going! My internal strength and the few people who believed in me, helped me become who I am today.
How much was the role of your immediate family in your achievement?
I knew from a very young age that I didn’t relate to my biological body. I then I began googling transgender people around the world and would read up their inspirational stories. They gave me the strength to open up to my father and taught me how to go about the transitioning process.
Today it is a great feeling to have my family supportive of me. My dad felt really proud of me when I told him about my book Nitasha, the voice of many. The book is scheduled to come out in two months.
In fact, my dad has even posted a warm message on the Facebook page I run. Honestly, seeing him write such a long comments full of love and pride, I felt great. For all these years, his emotional contribution has strengthened me and I can’t thank him enough.
Do you mind sharing your relationship status?
I am single at the moment but I would be happy to have someone who would love and respect me for who I am. At the end of the day we are also humans and emotionally need a loving partner.
So what is next? How are you celebrating your victory?
As of now, I am happily awaiting Durga Puja because once it ends, my training for Miss International TransQueen, going to be held in Thailand in March 2018, will begin. It is a great feeling because transwomen from 51 countries will be contesting at the Miss International TransQueen and I’ll be the flag bearer for India. I will try my best to come back with flying colors.
Under the guidance of Reena Rai, the founder and organiser of MTQI, our chief mentor Shaine Singh and our fitness trainer Varun Katyal, everything has been possible. We have also got sponsors who’ll provide financial aid in my training, surgeries, costumes, etc. These days I keep busy reading a lot, working hard on improving my fitness, and grooming myself to excel at every level of the international beauty pageant.
It is great to see that the trans community in India is gradually becoming progressive. How do you see yourself helping the trans community further?
After having won this pageant, I feel there is a responsibility vested on me. I propose to act as a torch-bearer and do my best for the transgender community. My priority is to create employment opportunities for the community. I have taken this as a challenge and I want to curb discrimination and exploitation and get them the status of being normal citizens, living a life of dignity and respect.
While signing off, Nitasha sounded even more positive. “I wish people to leave their prejudices behind and accept us with an open heart and match shoulders with us to make our country a better place tomorrow.”