When I was 17 years old, I got to access the Internet for the first time in my life. I discovered stories of some women in the U.S., who had suffered from gender dysphoria and had undergone a sex change to live happier, more beautiful lives. That day, for the first time, I found hope.
These were women I had never met, would never meet, but they played a most significant part in my life, simply by sharing their stories publicly, without any inhibition. The relief I felt that day meant so much to me that when I succeeded in my battle against gender dysphoria, I knew that the least and perhaps, the most I could do for others is—not hide, not be silent.
Satyamev Jayate helped me not be silent. It took my story far and wide, across oceans and hearts. The response I have received after the telecast of the episode is overwhelming, to say the least. Till date, 10–12 messages keep pouring in on my Facebook every day, and what’s amazing is that not even a single one of these messages has been negative or critical.
On October 19 (when the episode was aired) and for a few days after, I could barely get off my phone. There was a flood of calls, SMSes, WhatsApp messages, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. Family and friends told me how proud they felt, thousands of strangers said that my story had changed their perspective or had opened their eyes, and most importantly, many gender dysphoric people wrote saying the episode had made their extremely hard life a little bit easier.
I was offered a Fellowship at the prestigious INK Conference, 2014, and was invited to give a talk there. It was a great opportunity to bring LGBT issues into mainstream conversation, and it was possible only because of Satyamev Jayate. The Logical Indian also came forward in taking my story to its 2 million followers on Facebook. I have around 1,500 new followers on Twitter and approximately 4,500 more on Facebook. People from all age groups and across genders have been sending their love through tweets and messages. It’s been impossible for me to keep a count, but it’s easily in several thousands.
One of the most touching responses was a post on the alumni page of my engineering college, MNIT, Jaipur. A dear friend collected quotes about me from some of my closest friends, and wrote a beautiful post about me and the SMJ episode, encouraging the MNIT community to support the LGBT cause.
What’s most heartening to me is that almost all the responses I have received applaud and salute my parents, and extend a huge amount of respect to their love for me. Many gender dysphoric people who wrote to me said that their parents could understand them after watching my parents on the show. Reading that was deeply fulfilling.
The impact of any movement is truly measured only when we see those who were against us, now changing sides. One of our neighbouring families in Patiala who had been extremely critical of my parents’ support in my sex change process, after watching the show, told my mother that they were proud of me and my parents. And then, one of my schoolmates who was in the gang of boys who used to mock me in class, wrote an apology to me for his behaviour.
October 19, 2014 will go down as a historic day in the fight for LGBT rights in India. Satyamev Jayate reached out to the silently suffering ‘minuscule minority’ across the villages and towns of India. It gave them voice, gave them visibility, and gave them a belief that happiness is possible. I feel fortunate that I could be a small part of this belief.
December 19, 2014