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CHAMPIONING HER CAUSE: Angel Lama

There’s something about Anjel Lama that commands respect. The young transwoman is determined to make a mark and fight for transgender rights. Angel, who recently won the title of Miss Pink Nepal 2018, gives Ankita Jain a peek into the challenging world of transgenders. She talks about the much-misunderstood community while clearing confusion in some minds and removing attitudinal cobwebs in others. Excerpts:

Although Anjel Lama was raised by highly protective parents, she still became prey to bullies while in college. She vividly remembers a humiliating incident which haunts her often. “There were a group of boys who made fun of me regarding which washroom I would use, men or women,” she recalls. At that point, she felt completely alone. “I was unable to be happy at all. All I could think of was, ‘what next?’ and will they accept me as one of them?” she shares.

She knew she was not like the other boys and she took refuge in books. “It was during my early teens, I realised who I was — a transgender, a trans-woman — and since then my only concern was to create my own identity,” she says. Despite being supportive, Angel’s family is extremely concerned about her decision to change her gender. “I am the only child and looking from my parent’s perspective, they are obviously worried about my health. Sex change involves a number of surgeries with high levels of risk, “she reveals.

Struggling to implement her decision, she explains, “Firstly I am in my teens right now. Secondly, I’ll have to opt for self-medication due to lack of proper doctors who are experts in gender change surgery in Nepal. And of course, the whole process is expensive. Therefore, when I am financially stable I shall consider sex change.”

The surgery for male-to-female gender change requires vaginoplasty and breast reconstruction and the female-to-male surgery includes hysterectomy, ovariectomy, penile reconstruction, and urethra lengthening.

Currently working as a Para Social Worker at Blue Diamond Society, Angel is driving hard for bigger change.

The proudest moment in her life unfolded at the national level when she got crowned as Miss Pink Nepal. “Miss Pink is a prestigious and respected platform for trans-women. My main motive to participate in the pageant was to show visibility of trans-women and raise my voice for the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) people in Nepal,” she shares. Citing that she sees no difference in her lifestyle after achieving the title she says, “Life has been the usual. It’s just that a title has been earned and with it comes responsibility.”

Angel asserts that as people are more educated nowadays they have become more open to the idea of sex change. “However there are still some taboos. Due to lack of professional doctors and hospitals for transgenders in Nepal, sex change is still lacking,” she claims.

Talking about her future plans, Angel says, “My future plans are simple. As an ordinary being, I want to lead a successful life which includes fighting for the rights of LGBTI in my country and making the world a place where no one is judged based on their sexuality.”

Finally, she draws our conservation to an end with a request, “Will you please consider employing a transgender in your organisation, however small the job might be?”