PUNE: Sometimes, rural areas show better community understanding than their urban counterparts. This has again came to fore after Vijay Vasave, who born as a male, has been given full support not only by the family and relatives but by the villagers for the sexual transition surgery.
Vijay who belongs to a tribal area in Nandurbar district, was born as a male child. However, he always had an inclination towards becoming a female. Interestingly, it wasn’t that difficult for Vasave to reveal his identity to his family members who resided in the village rather, it was more difficult for him to embrace his gender identity and live in a city like Pune.
“I was surprised that confiding in my family members was easy. I and one of my sisters explained them about what was Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community. We simplified the terms to them and they understood it,” said the 26-year-old transwoman.
“I wasn’t questioned or no drama was created about this at home. Slowly, my relatives and friends in the village learnt about me. It didn’t create any difference between our relationships either. They were fine with the fact too,” she added.
A VILLAGE FREE OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION
Vasave’s village Dahel in Akalkuwa taluka of Nandurbar district is one of its kind village. The village which consists of around 3,000 people has not only accepted the gender identity of Vijay but have also come out in support to him for his operation.
“We belong to tribal group. Everyone there have farming-related occupation and very few are degree holders. Now, the number of graduates is increasing steadily. Gender discrimination is nil there. Women are especially respected in our village. I think that is the reason why it was easy for everyone to understand and accept my gender identity,” said Vasave who had come to Pune two years ago for studying masters in social work from Karve Institute of Social Service.
In fact, ever since my family members and relatives have known about my identity, they have treated me like a woman. “But it didn’t mean they asked me to learn cooking. They said I was free to choose for myself,” Vasave said.
JOURNEY OF SCARS
Growing up at a boarding school in her district wasn’t easy for her. Vasave was in Std V, when she was first sexually assaulted.
Vasave realised she wasn’t like any other boy in her childhood itself. She always had more female friends and liked to wear female clothes.
“I used to wake up at 4 am when it was dark outside and everyone would be asleep, to take a bath. We had common toilets and bathrooms at the boarding. I used to be uncomfortable in bathing as there were other boys present in the bathroom,” she recalled while telling about the times when she faced humiliation from others.
“I was also bullied at my college in Nashik. I cancelled my admission and went back home,” she added.
Even today, she lives separately in a room and has been isolated by other hostelites. Vasave at present resides in the boys hostel in Pune and intends to remove her name from the hostel after her surgery is completed and body fully recovered.
FROM VIJAY TO VIJAYA
It was during her post graduation days when Vasave learnt about sex-change operation and studied about transgenders and their lives. With the help of her professors at the college, she was able to understand her gender identity.
Currently, Vasave has been undergoing hormonal treatment. Her total expenditure to complete the medical process including the surgery is estimated to be over Rs 3 lakh.
“My family members and relatives have come forward to help me financially. They are trying to contribute whatever amount is possible and manageable. Even my friends have offered to help me. This stands as the biggest support for me at present,” said Vasave who intends to look for a job after her surgery and financially support her family members.
Vasave can’t wait to set on her new journey as Vijaya.
She laughed and said, “I know my family will get me married off with same joy and excitement like any other parent.”