Parenthood remains parenthood, no matter the gender identity or sexual orientation of one’s child. The journey of parents of children of the LGBTQ+ community, however, takes a slightly different path.
Acceptance, and not approval, remains the core of such parenting. To be the pillar of strength for a child going through events completely alien to them is not an easy ask, but as a parent, it’s yet another test to create a safe and loving environment for your child.
Gender identities are not spoken of enough in India –– it yet garners mixed reactions, as if gender identities are a trivial topic. The Times Of India reported that merely 2 per cent of transpeople live with their parents –– the rest are either thrown out of home, or are forced to leave due to abuse. That is 2 per cent of India’s children living away from their parents –– and not by preferred choice.
As part of the Pride Circle’s EQUALLY: Stories By FRIENDS Of the Queer World, Payal Pasha tells us, in her own words, her experience of mothering a child that felt different to the gender assigned to them at birth. It is not a story of trials and tribulations, but that of love, acceptance and comfort.
At the time of our wedding, my husband Javed Akhtar Pasha had three daughters. Though I had not met the children before, his family members had told me that since the beginning, the eldest daughter (six years old at the time) always behaved like a boy. Her choice of clothes and toys, and conduct were of a boy rather than that of a girl. And I observed the same. She preferred outdoor sports and had the same aggression and energy that boys usually have when growing up. No one around her, not even her friends, knew that she was not a boy biologically. We all believed her to be a ‘tomboy’ and that this was a phase that would eventually pass as she grew up.
One day I noticed her crying in her room after she had returned from school. I went up to her and coaxed her to share what she was feeling. She was, of course, hesitant, but then she told me that some boys had teased her at school as “the boy with breasts”, while playing basketball. She said, “I am a boy. I am not a girl.” I realised something needed to be done about the situation. That is when Aryan’s journey began.
I went to my husband and explained the situation. It also helped that almost everyone already thought of Aryan as a boy and he was always treated like one in the family. So, it was not that challenging to have our family on board — not just for the gender affirmation surgery but also for announcing it in public.
I did not know much about the LGBT+ community then. I probably knew a bit about being gay or lesbian, but not transmen. I do not think I ever saw it from the lens of Aryan being a part of the community. The only thing I saw was my child’s happiness and how I needed to support him to make it happen.
When faced with adversity, ridicule and sometimes hatred, it is the parents’ love and strength that can help the child sail through. A kiss, a hug, a smile and not caring much about “what will people say”, make for an ironclad armour that every LBGT+ kid needs, to be able to stand upright with pride.
Like Payal, many more allies have contributed how such experiences changed her life forever and made them into an ally in EQUALLY: Stories By FRIENDS Of the Queer World. Published by Rupa, the first of its kind anthology put together by Pride Circle is due to be released on 9 April 2021.
Find more about EQUALLY here.
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