WOW | Ed Page

The first time I came across a trans-person was at traffic light in New Delhi.

The first time I came across a trans-person was at traffic light in New Delhi. I must have been five or six years old and I was transfixed. I knew that their voice did not match their gender, and in that we were not alike. I was also a little overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of sound and presence. I asked why they looked and behaved different but was given an embarrassed and muffled response by the adults. My mind wandered soon enough to the boy selling colourful balloons and pink cotton candy, the question forgotten.

I was in grade eight in a boarding school when I learned of the terminology: gay. Until then the word just meant happy. Apparently there was a lesbian couple in senior school and the girls were being expelled for inappropriate behavior. I used the dictionary, read a little and lost interest. But over course of time, I came to understand through books and films that there were people with different sexual and identity orientations. The topic was of course never discussed in classroom or at home. I drew my own conclusions.

As an adult I had some friends who were gay but we never really felt the need to discuss why they were who they were. They were friends just like any other. Later my work brought me to learn about the Blue Diamond Society. After several interactions, I learned how hard it was to not belong. I learned about the overwhelming inner confusions compounded by lack of understanding and sheer mistreatment and abuse by family and society. I decided to use the voice of our magazine to create awareness, share their stories and encourage people to own their truth. I was also invited to attend Mr Pink as a judge. I saw the spirit, the beauty, and the colour and that led us to having some of them to subsequently make it to the covers of our magazines.

I feel happy today when I see individuals associated with Blue Diamond Society like Anjali Lama become an internationally acclaimed model, Sophie Sunuwar run a successful business, and Bhumika Shrestha join politics and write a book. I am happy every time a person is able to own their truth and live by their choices. I don’t know what it feels to be them; I can only imagine the confusion, rejection and pain of their journey. Life is an ongoing process and none of us is going to come out of it alive, if we understand this simple truth, we will be more accepting of each other.

If as human beings we can add value to each others’ lives, show humility, dignity, compassion and respect, provide support, understanding and inclusion, we will all have created a better world. We can either build barriers or we can build bridges.