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‘I’m Still Hunting For Mr. Right’: Love And Dating As A Transgender Indian

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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.

By Ajai Rai:

Hi, my name is Ajay Rai. I am a gay versatile bottom and a social worker. I stay in Delhi with my mother and sister. I am a simple person with average looks, shy, soft-spoken, well-mannered, hard working, spiritual and a nature lover. I speak less and listen more. My list of passions is long: reading, writing, painting, music, movies, cooking, traveling, shopping, and I love to taste new dishes, especially in newly-opened restaurants. And that’s usually how I introduce myself when I’m swiping right.

When I was 14-years-old, I realised I felt sexual attraction to men only. And that’s true even today. When I have a crush on a man, I look for silly excuses just to start talking to him! And when I meet that one special man, I look forward to a romantic conversation with him, to hold his hand, and spend all my time with him. Sometimes, when I spot a man I like, and my heart beats faster, I feel younger and energetic! I want a boyfriend, simple as that. Someone I can do all my favourite things with:singing, dancing, and of course, eating at new restaurants. I’d love to have a playful evening at a beach with my boyfriend. But I’m still hunting for my Mr. Right.

For representation only.

At a time when I felt like no one understands me, and when I was lonely, I decided to go on an online dating app to find my soulmate. I’m not a one-night-stand kind of girl. I believe in long-term relationships, with stability and transparency. On the app, I was looking for someone who is clear about his gender identity, and clear about mine too. And guess what? I found that person!

It was at a time when I had just graduated from college. I chatted with him a lot, shared my feelings, spoke about my loneliness with him. We began spending a lot of quality time together (and I even fulfilled my sexual desires with him!) When we were seeing each other, we loved each other a lot. They say that the honeymoon period for any relationship happens only in the beginning. Lucky for us, it was for the entire five year period that we were dating.

But then, our lives took a different turn. He married a girl, and once again, I felt like I was all alone on this planet. It was soon my turn to be married. When I turned 26, my mom and younger brother were the ones who began pushing me. It was then that I told them I have no interest in girls. It was then that I told them, for convenience’s sake, that I am gay. My mom has been giving me blank faces for the last two or three years. She does not understand what “gay” means. It is a word that does not exist in her dictionary. I remember when she told me, “Tu bigad gaya hai, shadi ho jayegi teri to tu theek ho jayega (Something is wrong with you. When you get married, then you’ll be normal).” How should I tell my mom that I can’t change the way my heart beats, and for whom it beats?

I want each and every member of my family, my neighbours, and my friends to become aware about the various types of gender identities that exist, as well as all the sexual orientations among us human beings. I want them to understand them, respect them, and allow people to grow, no matter what their identity is. I want my family members, relatives, and friends to provide an equal platform for education and opportunities for people of different genders to build their career.

In my own small way, I want to be part of this change. I would love to work on education rights for transgender people, and I believe everyone can work towards this together. Having to face loneliness because of your gender identity isn’t fair. Trans people have sharp minds. We are caring. We are energetic. We have a good dressing sense. When given the opportunity, we perform great at our studies. And we have various God-given talents. The important thing is to provide trans people all available resources for us to perform well in life. I want trans- and gay-friendly apps, clubs, music, movies, and spaces to improve my quality of life. I want freedom for gay marriages in our country. After all, love is love!

In online dating, there are both good and bad experiences. All of us of course want the good ones. For that, here’s my suggestion to everyone: You should be honest about the information you reveal, like your name, work profile, hobbies and, yes, even your picture. My rule is to meet your date in public four or five times before you think about a relationship. So if dating is your plan, all the best to you. Keep hunting, and have fun!

Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons.
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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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