There are so many things that society wants to shove down our throats in the name of norms. Prevalent culture dictates that only a married cisgender man can be a father and a mother, a married cisgender woman. The idea of a heternormative family structure is so ingrained in Indian society that even single-parent children are treated with a sort of otherness — a kind of differentiation that comes with society viewing them as part of an ‘incomplete’ family. Western societies are challenging these archaic institutions of marriage and traditional family as more unmarried cisgender couples are adopting orphans, married couples are opting for test-tube babies, a homosexual couple is adopting a baby, or adopting any alternative form of raising a family that defies the traditional heteronormative family structure. The progress of western thought shines through these examples and India has been lagging behind in adapting to the changing times.
Well, the winds of change are finally here and it is blowing from the progressive southern part of India, Kerala. Yesterday at 9:30 AM, a couple became India’s first transgender parents after one of the partners who identifies as a trans man gave birth to a baby in Kozhikode, Kerala. Ziya Paval, who was born male, and her partner, Zahad, who was female by birth, were midway through a physical transition with surgery and hormone therapy to change their sex when they conceived. Zahad gave birth by caesarian section at the Government Medical College hospital and is currently under observation in the hospital’s intensive care unit, along with the newborn baby.
Despite being officially recognized as a ‘third gender’ since 2014, transgender people continue to face discrimination and stigma. The birth of this baby is a watershed moment in South Asian history. Zahad, an accountant, is 23 years old and Ziya, a professional dancer, is 21. The couple had initially wanted to adopt a baby but they ran into legal issues. It was a blessing in disguise as that led to Zahad’s conception and the couple being the first Indian transgender parents. The couple has refrained from revealing the baby's gender as they feel the baby should be free to choose their gender.
"The news has spread joy among the transgender community in the country. I have never felt such happiness in my life."
Adam Harry, the country's first transgender pilot
Kerala's Minister for Social Justice, R Bindu, expressed her joy at the birth of the newborn, calling it an event that has opened the doors to a “more inclusive, gender-aware world.” The Minister further emphasized the need to look beyond the heteronormative structure of family and replace it with an idea of a family that is loving and accepting. On Twitter, there were mixed reactions. While several people were overjoyed by this landmark event, there were some who hurled transphobic comments. Transphobia is a cultural problem and should be tackled accordingly. There is still a lot of scope in Indian society for unlearning and learning. We sincerely hope that the happy couple and their bundle of joy shine as a beacon of light for a more progressive and inclusive India.
"When we started to live together three years ago, we thought our life should be different from other transgenders. Most couples are boycotted by society as well as their respective families. We wanted a baby so that there is a person even after our days in this world.”
Ziya Paval, in an interview with The Indian Express