I am Desi and first generation American; my parents & great grand parents are from Kenya and Tanzania and my ancestors are from the south of India.
I remember being in high school and skipping all of my classes to write poetry. I would go to the library and just write down all of the poetry that was inside of me, because I felt like writing and reading were the only ways to make me feel heard and alive - to make me feel like I had agency over my life.
I didn’t think I would make it through high school; I thought I would be stuck in that one space forever. I didn’t know the word “trans*” existed. Growing up in north Burnaby, I didn’t have the resources queer youth had in the main city of Vancouver. I couldn’t even really look up resources online, because I didn’t have a computer. I learned as much as I could by word of mouth.
I was 18 years old when a rad social justice teacher said the word trans*. When she did, something just clicked for me, like I could finally name what was inside me for so long.
I was as a trans* South Asian man.
I managed to trek through high school, even though it was really difficult. I am now 23 and I have such a supportive chosen family of siblings, aunties, and uncles who help me love myself as well as other Queer, Trans* and Two-Spirit folks of colour.
Being a trans* person of colour, I feel like stories and narratives are often not given space to be verbalized or shared, because spaces are difficult to navigate but also because of my own safety and culture. I am constantly trying to find words in my language – Hindi, Swahili and Kutchi – for trans* so that my family can really understand queerness.
I am working so much right now to save up for my chest reconstructive surgery. 5 years ago, I didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t think I would make it and I had so much doubt. I was really depressed in high school and have worked really hard to nurture positivity in my life. I knew I wanted to live and be me – the brown femme guy that I am, but I was constantly worried about finances and how I would make these things happen for me in order to live my life.
If I had to live without getting this surgery soon, I think I would tune out of reality completely and go back to the depression I was navigating in high school. I will always be angry that these surgeries cost money – it is something I will never understand.
It’s about survival.
In 3 months, my dream of this surgery is coming true. It is happening, because of the community who has helped me fundraise and also because I switched my mentality from “what I need is impossible” to “I need to do this for myself and to love myself.” What a difference that switch made for me!
I am a youth and I do a lot of youth engagement work around anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, and anti-oppression with workshops in the city. I am also a spoken word artist. The youth I spend time with have taught me so much about being real and honest and I feel blessed to share space with such amazing and resilient folks. I have dreams of continuing my schooling in social work, going into counseling, and using poetry as a form of healing. I intend to live my life as an artist and I am working towards this dream every day.
Nothing as ever been more powerful than a pen, for me - spoken word saved my life.