Life gives you many strange experiences. And for me, this was definitely one of them. I grew up being taught to be afraid and disgusted in the presence of trans women, but life taught me something different and I am thankful.

While I was in school, I honestly had a pretty bad impression on trans women around me. I often wondered why they needed to beg on the road, dress in an extremely loud way and generally make people uncomfortable
around them.
There were times when I questioned my opinions and made an attempt to offer money to a trans woman at a traffic signal and she would ask for more — something that, for some reason, offended me even more.

This was generally my attitude till a certain incident opened my eyes and made me question my biased perspectives. I remember the incident clearly. A young girl offered some money in alms to a trans woman and the trans woman offered to bless her in return. Something very strange happened. The girl ran away when the trans woman tried to touch her to bless her. Something struck me. It made me really sad. What was wrong with that girl? What was wrong in being blessed by someone else? Aren’t these trans women human beings too? I would have loved to be blessed by someone. So why was this girl so scared? This incident got me thinking.

Even more recently, an inebriated man was lying on the road and nobody cared too much. There were a few who had gathered around and in typical Indian fashion, ignored him and took in the pleasure of just staring. A trans woman was passing and she took the effort to call an ambulance. The crowd gathered, instead of appreciating her, abused her and then ridiculed her saying, “oh will you curse us now?” This changed my perspective completely — if I was treated like that every day of my life, I would behave exactly like a trans woman on the road: harsh, loud and sometimes bitter.

As men, we ridicule the trans women community when we want, but we’re also drawn towards them, when we want. On a visit to Bangalore recently, I came across a bunch of men who were crowded around a bunch of trans women sex workers. They were bargaining for a night of pleasure with the prettiest in that bunch and suddenly they’d forgotten that this was the same bunch of women they would have otherwise ridiculed for being exactly that: trans women. How easy it is for us to change how we perceive these women when we need them!

Today, I am a changed man. I understand that most trans women aren’t on the streets because they want to be there. They don’t behave so abrasively because they gain joy out of such behaviour. Life and the way we as a society treat them, have made them who they are. Yes, they might sometimes misbehave, but does that mean they do not deserve respect? There’s a bit of a trans woman in every ‘man’ and if that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have been seeing so many ‘straight’ men indulge themselves with the female filter on Snapchat, no? If as cis-men, we afford ourselves the joy of being female for a few seconds using a digital filter on a social media app, why are we condemning of other men who want to be women, even if it is for life?

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