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Even If Others Didn’t See Her As A Woman, She Hoped Her Tinder Date Would

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TinderEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #AllTypesAllSwipes, by Tinder and Youth Ki Awaaz to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week. Tinder now supports more ways to express gender identity by giving users the ability to add information about their gender outside the binary. Share your experiences of love, dating and authenticity here.

Loving well means taking no pleasure in someone else’s difficulties. Further, love rejoices the truth. It is to be delighted when the truth is spoken, when the truth hurts. With this quote, let me share with you a friend’s story of dating and love.

Sana Shree is a young trans woman who lives in urban Bangalore. She comes from a middle-class Christian family, and has two siblings – an elder brother and sister. As the youngest child in her home, she was also her mom’s favourite. Until the age of 10, that is. That was when her mom started to police her, and generally became ruder and stricter. No more love, only rules; rules and regulations came to Sana continuously: do this, do that, don’t go out, don’t speak to anyone. Soon, she realised that her mother’s ‘love’ had turned into the behaviour of a strict teacher. And how can you make love an expression of strictness?

When Sana was a little older, there was an incident that left a mark on her. She was out of the house with her sister when she spotted a man, her neighbour, coming closer and closer towards her. “But instead, he had came to speak to my sister. I was deeply disappointed, because he was my first crush,”says Sana. That day, Sana was dressed in ‘male’ attire. What no one knew was that she was filled with feminine feelings—because that’s who she was, feminine; a woman. It was the first time she had felt love for another person. But the man had come to ask her sister out on a date. Sana felt jealous in that moment. But what option did she have to express her love towards him? A young girl still navigating her feelings, she tried many times to break up her sister and her boyfriend, and to divert his love towards herself. But, of course, it didn’t work.

For representation only.

As a young person she was always very calm. But she almost became anxiety-prone when she went to college. While she was there, she could not even express her feelings for her best friend. The said friend had considered her to be a boy just like him. And when she finally expressed her love towards him, he reacted by insulting her and embarrassing her in public, saying that a boy and a boy couldn’t be together, and that there was no love between them. He went a step further, saying that same-sex love is stupid; that a boy can love only a girl, and a girl can love only boy; that love between the same sex is unnatural, against God, and a threat to society and family.

At this stage, when neither her family nor friends accepted her, she decided to leave everyone behind. But one fine day, while she was still dealing with all these rejections, she was gifted a mobile handset which had supported internet access. And that’s when she became very active on social media. Thanks to daily technological upgrades and innovative apps, she came across Tinder. The app provided recognition towards her identity.

Sana found a wonderful way to use it. As she became an expert in operating this app, it began to fulfill her needs. Here, she began making new friends, new choices, finding new partners, and she finally had a place to express her feelings with like-minded people. It was a way for two people to understand each other better.

She met a guy who was 27-years-old and working in a real estate company. He expressed to her his interest. He told her she looks like the Tamil actress Simran, which made Sana blush. As they talked, she was impressed by his words. But she was still reluctant to take things forward. She worried because she was not ‘fully changed’. Her ‘sex change’ had only happened with her attire. Would people accept that? One day, the guy asked her out on a date. He even said he wanted her to be his lover and partner. It came as a bit of a shock. She felt nervous, and blank, and didn’t know how respond to him. Her mind raced to old memories. Usually, people asked her only for fun and to entertain themselves at her expense.

Sana was eager to have her feelings reciprocated by a partner. Incidents like these were a huge disappointment. But, suddenly, here was a person who came to her with a need to share his love for her. That day, she felt like she was the happiest person in the world.

Love isn’t one action; it isn’t a feeling; it isn’t just a mind-set. It’s more than just ‘being nice’. Love is a way of life, it comes from the spirit within us. It is the by-product of a mysterious interaction between our intentions and God’s; between our will to live well and God’s sanctifying work in us. It isn’t simply there when we’re born; it is developed. It has to be honed, crafted, and practiced. By God’s grace we learn to recognise love, to behave with love, to dare to be different. Living in a loving way is almost like worship.

Sana, very much in love, decided to take the plunge. When she went to meet her date, she went as herself, disclosing her identity to him. It was her behaviour—who she was—that drew him to her. The attire didn’t matter.

And this is Sana’s love story. She and her partner have been living happily together for the last six years! Pretty clear at this point what love does, right? Sana’s dream of love came true, and it happened on an app that has made a huge impact on her life.

Featured image source: Harkale Linai/Flickr.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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