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Love Has Come Into My Life. But It Has Also Left My Life As Quickly

I am a trans woman. I wonder now if I will ever find love

I am contemplating whether I will ever find a love that is not fleeting. I complete 30 years in just two months. I am curious if it’s doable to find love for a girl like me who sometimes feels like she’s not even capable of loving herself. 

Greetings, I am Arina, a woman transitioning to womanhood. My gender is of utmost importance here. 

We say that love is supposed to transcend gender, but if that’s the case, why have I had such pathetic experiences in love? 

The first love affair I had was with a boy from my class. I was 14 years old and trying to explore my gender identity while living in a small village in West Bengal in a Muslim community. 

This love was comforting. Growing up in a small village as an effeminate boy, I found hatred and bullying a daily occurrence. When everyone in my family told me that something was wrong with me and I was the subject of mockery, this boy took me seriously. He would take on the bullies who tried to tease me for being feminine.

He always remained my support. During my sister’s wedding, my in-law’s drunken brother tried to parade me naked to show whether I had male or female genitals. This boy took me out of the wedding hall, rescued me from the humiliation, and provided me with his shoulder to cry on. When my parents told me that I was so haram that they would never go to Jannat because of me, this boy’s love felt like it came straight from heaven. 

Even as I was trying to comprehend the difference between the physical anatomy of a transgender and a cisgender person, love made me feel like a complete girl. Growing up as a queer person in a very conservative Muslim neighbourhood was a traumatic experience. This boy’s arms were the only thing I could find solace in.

But little did I know that the love that made me so full would break me down, give me a reality check, and burst my balloons of fantasy. 

He got a job in the army at the age of 17. He was ecstatic. He came to meet me before leaving the village. We made out and he kissed my forehead. He whispered in a low hummed voice, “Please wait for me!” 

That day was perfect. I was just expecting him to sing the “Toh Challe” song from Border for me. It would have made the parting more special. 

In his initial days of army training, he would call me regularly, telling me every tiny detail of the training. Gradually, the calls decreased. I needed him so much at that point. I made numerous attempts to call him. Sometimes the call was answered, but only for a very few seconds. 

My family was mentally forcing me to act “normal”, to fit into the society-imposed gender norms for cis males. I was indulging in self-destructive methods to overcome my pain—cutting myself, banging my head, using psychoactive drugs, and overdosing on glue were among the things I did. But he never called or attempted to meet me after his training. 

I steadfastly believed that he would come to meet me. I used to keep track of his arrival from his army camp, but was too timid to go and meet him, because the sudden change in his behaviour confused me. 

One day, I gained a sense of courage. I visited his house. He seemed embarrassed at seeing me. 

He took my hand and led me outside. I asked what had gone wrong, tears in my eyes. Why could he not meet me for nine months? Why could he not answer my calls? He seemed calm but cruel. He spoke the word “Sin”. I asked him to explain. He said sodomy was a “sinful act”. He said had committed a sin with me, and could not continue doing it. I don’t know how he became so radically transformed in the army camp. Who was educating him to hate?

His words pierced my heart, breaking it apart. I stumbled onto a road to find my way home. I rushed to my bathroom and grabbed a phenyl bottle to drink from. I was rescued by my transphobic family, those who sometimes prayed for my death. 

Despite this event, I remained hopeful about love. 

I was eagerly waiting for my prince to make my queer existence bearable and endearing. But it was challenging for me to find love in that orthodox Muslim area because I struggled to open up to people. 

It took me eight years to go on my second date. When I moved to Chandigarh, it was so much easier to find people who wanted to date queer people secretly. 

You could find someone even within a 100-meter radius. Their objective was simply to have fun, without any intention of getting into anything serious. I don’t blame those who are straightforward about this. But the ones I hate are those who arouse the feelings of love just to sleep with me. 

They were so eloquent in their talk that I started believing that to find love for a queer person, was not difficult. The relationships were fleeting and short-lived, and I found myself begging them to stay with me. 

But they left, leaving a dagger in my heart, creating a wound that was deeper than before. They left me with my existential crisis and left me with so many questions. 

Could love ever find a queer person like me? Would I ever find a love that won’t be ashamed of accepting me in public? I was looking for someone’s acceptance to validate my self-worth. I was at the mercy of other’s love. 

In the midst of constant heartbreak, I attempted to find love within my community. Though it was not intentional, it was rather destined. I had never met a transman before joining a corporate training programme organised by PeriFerry in Bangalore. (If you don't want to, don't name the organization.) I stayed in Belandur, Bangalore, for almost two months in a co-ed living space named Istara. 

This guy was well built and tall. When he took my luggage and showed me my room, I got butterflies in my stomach. He started helping me with the training program and talked to me in a very flirtatious way. 

Everyone in the program was noticing that something was brewing between us. One day, he placed his hand on mine. It was soft and brimming with compassion. We kissed and his hand was struggling to press my bosom. He laughed and took his hands off me. 

I asked what happened. He said, “Your face looks so broad and manly when closely examined”. My face was a reflection of my heartbreak. Realising this, he said he was only joking. But, I was aware that he was not. And it proved itself later. Soon, he began to make unnecessary comments about my appearance, even as he continued being in a physical relationship with me. 

He said his friend made fun of our relationship. “They think we don’t look good together as a couple”. 

These later words caused me a great deal of pain. 

He told me he was just passing time so he wouldn’t get bored. He said he would marry a normal girl anyway. I demanded an explanation of what normal meant to him. He remained silent and departed. I’d thought he would understand. 

I had thought that in him I’d found the love of my life. We had similar set of struggles and journey. Being transgender, would not have been a breeze for him either. He had faced similar struggles, including not being accepted by his family and being homeless. He had gone through all that I had, so I believed he would not break me. 

That’s why the lie he was telling me was so easy to accept. My expectation was that this time it would be significant, not like the fleeting and meaningless dates of the past. 

I crave hands that are not afraid to hold my hands in public. I always wanted someone who is proud and not making me a side chick for their entertainment.

And, when every wish of mine has been shattered, how can I direct my loveless life to do something meaningful for me? I no longer believe in love.

Arina Alam is an author whose work is inspired by the prejudices present in our society towards transgender individuals. She shares insights based on her personal journey as a transgender individual and has been featured in numerous online platforms and newspapers.

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