‘Don’t Need A Penis To Be A Man’: India’s First Transmale Model
Section 377: Veegent’s journey of transition to a transman, overcoming gender stereotypes and loving himself.
‘‘Being a man doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a penis. You don’t have to have a penis to be a man you don’t have to have a vagina to be a woman.’’Veegent
19 years-old Veegent is India’s first transmale professional model. In Vee’s words, he was not born a girl, he was assigned the female gender at birth.
Veegent has modelled for the Gaurav Gupta Couture show 2021 and has also been part of the GQ cover 2020.
This is his journey of finding himself, accepting his gender identity, overcoming gender stereotypes and loving himself.
Born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Vee spent 15 years of his life in Himachal Pradesh until finally, his family moved to Delhi two years ago after his father passed away.
Uncovering The Truth
Being attracted to girls, Vee identified as a lesbian. It’s during his time in Delhi, he learned about transgenders. He met people from the community, read and learned more about himself and finally understood that he found comfort in being ‘he’ and when the world labelling him as ‘she’ ‘felt out of sync’.
I wouldn’t have come to Delhi if my father was alive. I think it’s very contradicting when I say I am grateful to be in Delhi, because I found my future here and who I am.Veegent
Gender Dysphoria- What Does It Feel Like?
Young girls are instantly labelled as a ‘tomboy’ if they keep short hair, play cricket or go for ‘boyish’ choices in clothing and the same happened with Veegent.
He talks about wanting to be his brother, not just dress like him, he wanted to be him, be a 'man'.
Body dysphoria set in and he struggled with being called a 'girl'. All it took was for his teachers in school, friends, or anyone addressing him as ‘her’ to trigger him. To hide his feminine body, Vee would wear baggy clothes.
Dysphoria feels like being caged, not being in the correct body, it makes you anxious, makes you want to tear up the body parts you really hate. Not just your body, you begin to hate yourself. You don’t want to exist. I wanted to be accepted as a man, and not have a vagina and breast.Veegent
Vee’s dysphoria with his breast is severe and wearing a binder helps him. He wears the binder at all times because the thought of others looking at his breast makes him anxious and triggers his dysphoria.
‘My Hormone Therapy’
I personally felt more connected to my feminine side the day I got on testosterone (injections). Finally, I came to terms with my gender identity. I don’t owe my masculinity to anyone but me. It made me feel so confident as a man that femininity doesn’t scare me anymore.Veegent
The legal process of hormone therapy requires therapy sessions with a psychiatrist who evaluates your ‘condition’. The sessions are important as it's legally required to get a go ahead from a psychiatrist to transition.
An endocrinologist suggests the amount of testosterone one can start injecting and the frequency of it.
Veegent started taking T-shots on 26 September, 2020 and the first noticeable change was his voice.
One T-shot cost around Rs 342. I am taking 250 mg. So, after six months, it changes according to what the doctor prescribes you, like what you need for your body. One month after, I started noticing changes in my body. I started growing a moustache.Veegent
The physical changes that come with hormone therapy helped with body dysphoria. As Vee says, the feeling is ‘euphoric’ when people around you notice these changes and more and more people start addressing you as a man.
Apart from hormone therapy, Vee is also looking to get top surgery (subcutaneous mastectomy) done soon. As he says, he wants to ‘walk with his chest out’.
Love & Intimacy
Veegent had his first girlfriend in 9th standard. At the time he identified as a lesbian. Since then dating has been confusing. Vee's last girlfriend was a lesbian, but the relationship didn’t sustain because he is a man.
For someone with body dysphoria, being intimate requires trust and comfort. Their partner needs to understand how their body works.
I am a very sex-positive person. Still, being dysphoric it’s really hard for me to orgasm. But I think, when I am really, really comfortable with the person, it happens.Veegent
Challenges of Trans Lives in India
Lack of awareness, limited conversations, regressive laws and the way Indian society perceives queer folk has made transgender lives very challenging. Acceptance is something that most queers in India fight for.
Here is a list of things Veegent has faced being a transman.
- Getting misgendered on a daily basis: ‘I don’t understand why people insist on addressing me as she/her even if I have clearly mentioned on social media platforms that I am a man, I go by he/him pronounce. ‘Tu ladki hi hai’ is one comment you will see in most of my posts.
- How a man is supposed to dress? : I wear skirts, nail paint, eye makeup and people go like, ‘if you are trying to be a man, why do these ‘girly’ things?’ I always say, first of all, I am not ‘trying’ to be a man, I am a man. And it's society that has dictated what is masculine and feminine. I have also unlearned this perceived notion of masculinity and femininity. I never used to wear makeup because I always thought that it would make me look like a girl, but now I own it!
- Proof of surgery to be legally identified: Not every trans person goes through surgery or hormone therapy. Some people don't have the privilege and some people just don't want to. It’s unfair that I can claim my gender identity only when I show them that I have a flat chest.
- Where’s the representation?: For most media outlets, representation of the LGBTQ+ community ends with homosexuals. Bollywood has mostly misrepresented trans folk. Cast trans people, show their real struggles, not your perception of what their struggles are.
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