“People have called me ‘chakka’– I’d like to tell them, from this day on, I’m only known as Dr. Trinetra”
“When I was born, my family was overjoyed at their first born child–a son. But as a kid, I never thought of myself as a boy. I would wear Maa’s saree, put on her makeup and parade around the house, putting on a show. Initially, everyone found it cute, but when they saw this so-called ‘phase’ go on for longer than expected, they were embarrassed. They started hiding these items from me, saying, ‘You’re too old for this now.’
Soon after, we welcomed my little brother and while everyone was ecstatic, I couldn’t comprehend being addressed as an ‘older brother’. As a five year old, being referred to as a boy started to feel like a burden; I fell prey to conditioned upbringing.Maa made fun of his accent; that triggered something in me and I blurted out that I liked men!
My parents didn’t take it well. For the longest time, they were in denial. We stayed under the same roof but hardly spoke. Around the same time, I decided to come out to the world. But that just added fuel to the fire. The bullying at school turned into harassment. My classmates would feel me up; when I flinched, they’d say, ‘We know you like this’. Even my teachers didn’t.
I grew into an unresolved teenager, who was scared to express. But dad wanted his son to become a man, so he tried to get me to do everything stereotypically masculine...like sports, but I couldn’t; it just wasn’t me. I hated everything about myself and high school only made it harder.
My classmates called me names. For the longest time I was referred to as, ‘faggot’. The bullying took a toll on me. Even when I realised I liked men, I assumed I was a gay man, but somehow the idea that I must be a ‘man’ didn't feel right. Each time I wanted to be vulnerable, I was asked to be tough. I wasn’t allowed to cry, because ‘big boys don’t cry.’ With no one to turn to, I started taking the frustration out on myself. I started self harming. For the longest time, I thought that something was wrong with me. I would pray day and night to be like others… to be ‘normal’.
Once when I was in 10th, Maa and I were watching a show where the protagonist was gay. spare me. I was made to read a paragraph out loud in class only for them to mock my voice. Unable to find an escape, I channelized all my energy towards my studies. That was the one thing no one could ever take away from me. Over time I realised I wanted to use my knowledge in the operating room. I wanted to be a doctor. I finally found my path, but was I ready to walk on it as a man?I studied hard to get into medical school, and when I made it, there was temporary relief. But the discomfort I felt in my own skin caught up with me, and I couldn't avoid it eventually. I had grown up hating my body. The only time I felt comfortable in my body was when I wore crop tops or applied winged liner. I wanted to look a certain way but I knew I would just embarrass my parents. They had just started accepting my sexual orientation, I didn’t want to drop another bomb. But I was so confused. Growing up, like everyone else, I was taught to fear transgender people. It took me years to unlearn this self hatred that society taught me. But I was 20 when I finally plucked up the courage and said to myself, ‘You’re a woman!’
I felt as free as that little kid who knew she was a girl but was conditioned to believe she was a boy. How liberating it felt! So, I put up a post on Facebook that read ‘Call Me Trinetra’, officially coming out as a woman. My phone rang immediately, it was Maa. She simply said, ‘So Trinetra…’ and I completely broke down. It felt real. That’s when I decided to start transitioning.
Embarking on this journey of transition made me realise so many gaping holes in the profession I had chosen. I was once thrown out of a lecture for wearing a nose pin. I wasn’t allotted a room in the girl’s hostel because I didn’t have the ‘organs’ for it. These incidents made me realise that although medicine has progressed, the flag bearers of the field still suffer from transphobia.
Even when I was researching my medical options for transitioning, information wasn’t easily available. It took me a while to find the right doctors given how few there are. After multiple surgeries over two years, when my treatment finally ended and I looked at myself in the mirror, and saw myself– it felt like a fog had been lifted. And just like that, years of disconnect and discomfort vanished. Honestly, despite a few bumps in the road, I've never been this confident– I love my body; I love me.
Just a month ago, I finished my MBBS exams and started my internship. I’d thought of this moment since the day I decided to be a doctor. Growing up, people have even called me ‘chakka’– I’d like to tell them, from this day on, I’m only known as Dr. Trinetra. And you have to accord me the respect that title deserves… that I deserve. Because when I’m saving your life, you will not be concerned with the fact that I was once seen as a man.”