To Be Respected, You First Need To Accept Yourself As Who You Are: Transwoman Tanvi D
- IWB Post
- January 8, 2019
For Tanvi D, a transwoman, photography has been her support and she calls it “cathartic”. Born as Mahesh, she had to fight society and countless hurdles to be who she is today, a transwoman.
“I belong to God’s own land Tirupathi- the abode of Balaji. But the same land didn’t accept me as who I am. I am currently based in Chennai,” Tanvi said. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a ticket-checker in private transport buses. Her father passed away when she was in class ten and to support her family, she took up a job as a labor-on-contract in a reputed tire manufacturing company.
“Since the age of eight, I would love to dress up like girls, mimic movie dialogues and dreamt to be a film actor someday. But destiny had its own will. I had a younger brother to educate, I worked as a laborer and aimed to make him a big man. I sent him to study in Chennai, but once when he came home for holidays, he collapsed with a high fever. We rushed him back to Chennai for best possible medical care, but he passed away at a fatal stage of Jaundice. That was the day that broke me from within,” said Tanvi.
When she dressed up like a woman, her mother would scold her but Tanvi found it hard to suppress her real identity. So, one day, her mother took a drastic decision.
“My mother pressurized me to get married; I had already lost one parent and not willing to lose her, I succumbed to pressure. We had no cell phones back then to tell my wife the truth. And we were married off. Initially, I had no courage to tell my wife, but one day I wept and broke out the truth. She said she loves me and also that she would get me ‘cured of this problem’. After a gap of a few years, due to societal pressure, we had a son and a daughter. But inside us, we knew we were not soulmates, not man-and-wife. I at times feel bad for my children who have no say, no fault in all this nonsense,” she shared.
After this, Tanvi came to Bengaluru, where she started living like a woman. “I used to stay like a woman in Bengaluru and visit my wife & children in Chennai dressed up as a normal man. This went on for five years. During this time my wife advised me to try medication, counseling etc, etc. I am sure she was worried about our children’s future. I don’t blame her, I accept that I should have been brave enough not to marry her. But her words, her avoiding me as a human being hurts me,” Tanvi shared.
“One day I decided to live openly like a trans-woman. And before that I got my wife her own tailoring Boutique – she is quite skilled at that. I wanted her to be independent before she takes a stand to stay with me or part ways. I have children, I cannot run away from my responsibilities,” she added.
Her daughter, 8, loves to act and Tanvi even made a short film in which she cast her daughter as the lead child actor. Her second short film starring her daughter won them awards as the best actor and best director at the Kolkata Film Festival. ” My past has been black most of the times, but my daughter deserves the rainbow,” she said. Now Tanvi plans to undergo sex-change surgery to change into a woman.
Her life took a positive turn when she joined SHEROES, a women’s community platform, which offers support, resources, and opportunities to its members.
“First of all thanks to SHEROES for accepting me as WHO I AM. At SHEROES not a single person has judged me, rather everyone supported me. I recently attended the Chennai SHEROES Summit. I even set-up my photo-stall there. And it gave me the much-needed confidence. My co-stall friends Narayanee and Anusuya …and their parents also supported me. SHEROES also opened future work opportunities for me which I can never forget! Big thanks, guys!!” she shared.
“All trans-men, trans-women must aim to take up a job. I know it isn’t that easy, but if we resolve, and educated ourselves, or at least skill ourselves, then surely we too will be taken seriously one day. I am an example, and so are a few others. All it takes is a resolve. And this applies even to so-called normal human beings. To be respected, your first need to accept yourself as who you are, then start respecting yourself. Trust yourself, if I can start living a dream, so can you,” she added.
While currently, Tanvi’s personal life is on hold, her professional life has taken off since her interest in photography grew.
“Oh, I used to help out in a studio as a spot-boy after my job at that reputed tire company…to make some extra money. Slowly I began taking interest in the events. And when I got a full-time job, I began saving money. I bought my own camera and starting doing usual photo clicking business. And with passing time I honed up my skills, began upgrading myself in technology and expanded my work which now ranges from Wedding Photography, Model’s Portfolios, Food & Event photo-shoots, and even some Wildlife Photography,” she shared.