This piece is Yvy's personal account of her experiences. This piece was published as part of the Trans Programme monthly eBulletin, TransMission. To read more of Yvy's blog, visit her blog 'YvyWorld'.
For most transgender individuals of colour, our initial experiences of rejection and judgement come from the people closest to us. Our friends, families and closest acquaintances. It’s hard to receive judgement from people that we grew up to love and revere with respect. Rejection cuts deep, regardless of who is subjecting you to it, but as a trans person of colour, it becomes an overwhelming anvil of pressure to bare that becomes too difficult to hold over time. Being an Indian trans woman who grew up in a Muslim community, I’ve experienced this pressure first hand. So much was expected of me because of my skin colour and my heritage, as I was expected by my community to act and behave a certain way so as not to cause shame for my family or cause unnecessary attention. All I wanted, and needed, was to be myself and it felt as though I was being punished for something I had no control over.
That type of rejection follows you wherever you go and it never goes away, but the only way it can continue to affect you is if you allow it to. I can’t count how many times I’ve been approached by people I don’t know, but are of my ethnicity, who felt they had the right to tell me that who I was and how I lived my life was shameful. At first, it made me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere. It made me feel like I had no place to turn. As time went by, I realised that I was being subjected to such behaviour because I had the nerve to stand out as an individual and be myself. As a result, I didn't allow their words to make me feel bad about who I am, because what other people’s opinion of me does not dictate who I am.
So many transgender individuals of colour have experienced this type of behaviour from their own ethnic groups, and it’s difficult at first to find solace when you’re battling through so much turmoil. That’s why it’s so important to remember that you’re not alone, you are not the only one going through this, and you are beautiful. It’s so easy to lose sight of who you are when it seems ‘easier’to succumb to people’s ignorant expectations, but that isn’t the case. We all have the right to be exactly who we were born to be, and no matter how isolated one may feel, there’s always a way to reach out to people who understand and relate to what you’re going through.
There are organisations and support groups for trans people of colour available, both online and face-to-face. Whether you’re in a big city or a small town, there is a network of support and an entire community that is waiting to meet you. Finding a source of support to reach out to can be as easy as a tap of a web search on your smart phone. I only recently became aware of just how much is available to me in Manchester today, much more than was available when I began my journey of transition ten years ago.
Being part of an ethnic minority, it can easily feel intimidating to approach a support group or interact with other trans people if you’re the only one from that particular minority. However, as soon as I walked into my first support group meeting, I felt at ease at the thought that I was in a room with people who share a common ground. My skin colour or my beliefs weren’t an issue.
In today’s world of social media, it is so easy to learn of other transgender journeys, and you can also share your own. It all starts with you. I started writing a blog chronicling my journey and have been able to reach so many trans people of colour and support them through their own journeys across the world through social media, which has been truly amazing. With all the obstacles and adversity we as trans individuals encounter, we have the courage within us to speak our minds and make our voices heard. I did just that, won’t you?