Imagine being five years old and realising that the body you're born in, is not yours. Imagine living in it and hating yourself every minute that you look into the mirror. Imagine life as someone who is singled out at school, laughed at, named called, bullied and in then physically abused. Imagine not being able to confide in anyone about the confusion or the guilt of being different. Imagine not being able to explain it to yourself - how you feel, what is wrong or why do you feel like a stranger in your own skin.
When we began working on this particular episode - Sex Changed - it was a journey into the life of just one extraordinary individual: Naina Singh. A 16-year-old who had challenged the system and found acceptance as a trans-woman. A teenager, whose inspirational story of coming out as a transgender was unique because her school, her friends, her family and more importantly she herself began living her true life. Born a boy - Krishna; Naina never felt comfortable as a male and knew that she was a girl inside. Her mother Mishi, struggled with her child's identity crisis for years, before being told by a doctor that she needed to accept her son as a daughter, else she would not have either to hold on to. Naina's journey to becoming a woman, is also her mother's journey.
Naina's story was unique and while filming it, we discovered another life-affirming story.
A 45-year-old woman who is in the middle of transitioning into a man. He requested us to keep his identity hidden, because his transition isn't complete yet. Living in NCR, he too had a similar journey. Only that he took a much longer path. He first came out as a lesbian and tried hard to find meaning in his desire for women. But it was only when he decided to become a man, and underwent his first surgery is when, he found true happiness. At one point we had to stop the interview because he was so overcome with emotion, while trying to explain the freedom he feels today - to be able to slip into a pair of swimming trunks and swim.
What is most remarkable about both these stories is the fact that both of these trans individuals allowed us to look into their lives and had a free-wheeling conversation about their trials and tribulations. They told us about the struggle to choose the gender they belonged to and the long road it took them to come to a point to be accepted for who they really are.
Sex Changed is the first part of a series on the LGBT community in India. In this three-part series we are trying to explore the specific challenges that the community faces and what does it mean to live in the 21st century India and yet be discriminated against.