Dear friends and family,
As many of you know, especially if you’ve seen me in the past few months – but just as many or more of you don’t yet know, I began a huge new journey last year in July 2015. For me, this journey was a long time coming, with the seeds planted in early childhood and grown through my years in school and college.
Over the last five years, though I’ve found happiness and satisfaction without saying publicly what I’m about to say, something was always slightly off. I was never quite myself.
Finally, I found the courage to do what I had long been avoiding, thanks to my ever supporting mother, sisters, brothers-in-law and my best friend (I thank God everyday for them).
In short: I came out as transgender. This means that even though I was born biologically female, on the inside I feel like a male. I do not identify with the sex/gender assigned to me at birth.
To that end, several months ago, I started the process of transitioning, medically and legally, to make my outside (body) match how I feel inside (mind and heart). This is not a decision that I’m making lightly. I’ve felt this way all my life but fought it to the extent that I tried my best to conform to society and live as a female but I just could not do it anymore.
And it’s been a liberating experience that is already making me more genuinely myself and more happy than I have ever been in my life.
These past months, I have been living and presenting as male full time. I have legally changed my name to Vihaan Peethambar and gender to male and use he/him pronouns.
So, to put it bluntly, if we talk, I ask that you abide by that change around the clock, whether I’m there to hear it or not. Change my name in your phone, your address book, and most importantly your mind.
I’m still the same person I was before I came out, though with the aid of modern medicine, my physical appearance has changed to a great extent. But my old name and pronouns (she/her) are simply not mine anymore. I don’t identify with them, and I DO NOT respond to them. So even if it takes some extra effort, and it feels uncomfortable at first, and you slip up sometimes (in front of me or not), please put in the effort. It’s important to me and it matters in ways both big and small. I think you’ll find it’s not as hard as you might at first imagine. It just takes a little practice and a bit of patience.
Like many trans-people, I’ve had to be patient with myself too. It’s been a long road to feeling like I can share this part of myself with the world. Over the years, I’ve watched in horror as trans-people have been murdered for the apparent crime of trying to match their respective bodies with their minds. My heart has broken repeatedly as I’ve read and heard stories about trans-people pushed so far to their limits by their families, peers and society – so utterly broken by the process of coming out that they took their own lives. To be honest, I have felt that way several times.
As most things with the LGBTIQ community, things are slow but getting better, every day, month, and year at differing paces around the country and world. On that front, I will continue to be patient and I hope that in coming out, I can do my own small part in helping those who are trapped in their own battles in the ongoing struggle for trans-recognition and rights.
I am now a member of Queerala – an LGBTIQ support group in Kerala and I work for creating awareness for trans-rights in Kerala. Recently, I was a panel member (representing Kerala trans-men) at Quest 2016 – National Seminar on Queer Discourses and Social Dialogues at Trivandrum.
Big picture aside, these past few months have been the most liberating, challenging and terrifying of my life. I am more myself than ever before. At last, I honestly say that this is who I am and I’m proud of it.
The main reason I’ve waited so long to tell you all is that I just felt uncomfortable writing this post and that I really didn’t know how it would be responded to if I told you this in person. Thank you for reading this. It’s a grand step in my journey.
So hey everyone, I’m Vihaan. It’s nice to meet you… again. I hope you’ll stick around for the next chapter of my journey, and in turn, I’ll stick around for yours.