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December 28, 2018

Fashion Stylist, Model And Trans Person Taksh Sharma Takes Us Through Her Transitioning Journey

Text by Shubham Ladha. Photographs by Taksh Sharma, Mannat Malik and Two Point Two Studios

From coming out as gay to transitioning into a woman, 2018 has been a landmark year for her in more ways than one

While the trans community is gradually finding visibility and equality, many are unaware of the path they’ve traversed to rediscover their identities. For fashion stylist and model, Taksh Sharma — who’s worked with brands such as Huemn and Manish Arora — 2018 was the year she began transitioning.

As she continues to create fashion imagery with labels and by herself, we chronicle the 23-year-old’s transformation:

What were the initial moments of rediscovering your identity like?

Taksh Sharma (TS): I’d always known that there was something a little different about me. I never quite fit into what a boy was “supposed” to be and could never understand my body in that particular contextualised frame. I couldn’t see myself through the lens of masculinity. There was a fundamental disconnect between my body and who I understood myself to be on a cerebral level, even though I didn’t have the language to articulate it. When the internet came into my life, I found out what the word ‘trans’ meant. For the first time in my life, I could feel a real sense of cohesion with it; it was an innate understanding.

During the 2000s, when I was growing up, the representation of LGBTQIA+ folk in the media was abysmal. There were no positive examples at all. The concept of being a “respectable” member of society while still being true to oneself didn’t really exist. I could only contextualise myself with whom I was attracted to, who at the time were boys. And so, it was a lot easier for me to come out as gay for a short amount of time,. And then I tried to figure out how to get to a stage where I could articulate what I felt from a place of safety and power.

What were the physiological and psychological medical procedures you underwent/are still undergoing?

TS: I began transitioning at the age of 20. Before I came out to my family as trans, I spent a long time trying to suppress it and fit it into my identity of a gay boy. With every progressive shift towards being femme, I asked myself why can’t that jump be enough? But it was never enough. 

I first came out to my mother — who’d been accompanying me to therapy — about transitioning, and we then started working towards trying to get me into a more stable headspace, before beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). My family and I underwent six months of intensive therapy to help us ease into the transition and prepare us for the future. Even though they’re doctors, it was all new for them too.

January 2017 was when I took my first dose of hormones, and after a year, in February 2018, I was able to get my bottom surgery. I still have a little list of the feminisation procedures I want to undergo. Primarily, I would like my voice to be more femme and get breast implants, but the medical technology or practice in India is still just touch-and-go. I’m planning that for the coming year, since I’ve just had a major surgery and have begun walking properly during the latter half of this year.

What have been your struggles during transitioning? How did you overcome them?

TS: During HRT, I was experiencing hot flashes, back aches and the loss of strength that comes naturally with testosterone. Realising the problem, I tried to fix it by doing yoga, and even lean into the more spiritual side of my culture, by spending time with my grandfather.

Gender dysphoria is the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex. With the hormones and the laser hair-removal I was undergoing, I felt better by the month. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and that helps combat the dysphoria. There are still days when I feel as though I’m not the most idealised version of myself just yet, but it’s helped me learn patience.

What’s been the biggest struggle and biggest blessing after transitioning?

TS: The biggest struggle post-transition has been learning how to reacquaint myself as a woman and being more conscious of myself in public spaces in India. Femme-presenting people get treated very differently in this country. There are lots of different expectations of us; something as simple as helping my parents understand that I’m a 23-year-old girl, and can go anywhere myself without a curfew. Trans’ and women’s’ safety here is still an issue.

I remember having this conversation with my father while waiting like criminals in the parking lot of the Aadhaar card office in Faridabad, even though we weren’t doing anything wrong, but because it would be so uncomfortable waiting in line amongst everyone, who would be gawking at me. If my father wasn’t there then, he wouldn’t have realised the difficulty of the situation.

The biggest blessing is every time I’m identified as a woman from the strangers around me….

What should people generally avoid doing or saying to trans people?

TS: People should avoid debating trans people’s existence with excuses of it being unnatural or that I’m a confused boy. Don’t misgender us with the wrong pronouns, and if one does by mistake, just correct oneself and move on. Don’t treat us as if we’re the first of a new species. We aren’t unicorns, we’ve been around for a long time. Also, it’s not necessary to pull us into a discourse about gender all the time. We can talk about all sorts of stuff, just like any other human being.

How can people help trans people feel comfortable about themselves?

TS: People need to understand that just as there’s no correct way to be a man or woman, there’s no correct way to be a trans person. It’s so often that trans people don’t get the space to just be human; we’re either vilified or glorified, and that tends to dehumanise us. And when that happens, it turns into an excuse for the violence we face. If we request you to use a certain set of pronouns, please use them, even if they might not fit one’s definition of what men and women should look, feel and be like. It costs nothing to be polite. And please stand up for us when the need be. It helps if one is a little more supportive because it shows that one understands that certain folks have it harder, because there are institutionalised forms of violence they have to encounter every day, just for existing. Don’t invalidate our existence, just because one can’t understand our struggle.

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