Pretending: A Trans Experience

A member shared this insightful reflection with us and has agreed for us to share it further so her strength, resilience and honour can be admired by others.

My uncle recently passed away quite suddenly. As a family we all come together to show our respects and support the family. From organising the funeral, catering and all the household chores that come with all the people that turn up over the next few days. It’s a time when families pull together and be there for each other.

Now, if you are a trans woman and not out to everyone in the family (like me), it presents some unique challenges.

That bit, entering the mosque as male, with all the male family members, but the mosque staff just want to redirect you to the ladies section. After failing to get the message, I literally say “I’m not a woman” trying to be loud enough they realise and not so loud to cause embarrassment to all around me. It hurt internally too, because saying those exact words, out loud, are never easy for a trans woman to say, no matter the circumstance.

That bit, when guests arrive and they do that “this is my son” routine, one by one, until it gets to you and the dear old auntie with no filter bursts out “nehhh! ye bilkul ladki he” as everyone starts laughing and all you can see is the shame on your parents face.

That bit, when family members from afar arrive, shaking all the hands of the guys in the room, ignoring me; is that someone’s daughter just sitting around with the men? Or maybe it’s a really queer looking feminine male, therefore couldn’t possibly be ‘one of the family’, it’s safe to ignore.. After 3 days of this sort of ignorance, I just sit there, tired and broken.

The hardest part, has been seeing my parents not knowing what to do. They look at all the other guys my age, see them all grown up as manly men with proud parents, some with kids. You can see it in their eyes, that they’re grieving their old son (me), and what he could have been.

Despite the challenges of being the awkward sheep in the herd, it has brought me closer to them. Seeing me act respectfully, hearing me speak with understanding, from a range of topics, they can clearly see I’m nothing to be feared or ostracised. And it’s with this where I’ll get family support if I ever come out fully to everyone, to win hearts and minds.