Meet Saniya Sood,Who Beat The Odds And Became A Trans Queen
I was born in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh and completed my schooling from D.A.V. Public School, Shimla.
I love music, fashion, food and travelling. I love animals dearly and I currently have about 10 cats at home.
I discovered my feelings of being a girl at the age of 5. I was always very feminine and soft in the way I looked and spoke and presented myself to the world. This came in the way of me having a normal childhood because other kids at school and my neighbourhood started mocking me and calling me names. The humiliation was too much and I would always pray to god that I die.
I didn’t have any friends and going to school everyday was a torturous experience. Many trans kids are forced to leave school at a tender age because of the same reasons and never get to complete their education. But my dad was very particular about getting well educated in life. My parents knew what was going on with me but they thought it was a phase and I would grow out of it soon. So, I was an average kid at school, particularly good at languages, and always participating in almost all the extra curricular activities in school like spelling, dramatics, debates, singing and dancing. And as my dad always said, I knew the only way to have a good life was good education. So inspite of all that was going on, I completed my schooling and in fact, I topped my school in my 12th standard in the commerce section. By the time, I was in high school, I had figured out about sex change surgeries and I knew that the only way I could get it done was by getting a good job and a good salary. But I did not know about transgenders and transwomen. For a long time I thought I was gay because of being attracted to men, only to realise after a long time that what was going on with me had less to do with who I liked and more to do with who I was. But whenever I searched online for transgenders in India, I found only hijras and I knew that I wasnt one of them. With all due respect, hijras are also a part of the transgender umbrella and I know how they are marginalised and ostracized by the society and I love them and respect them but I wasn’t one of them.
After school, I came down to Bangalore to do my bachelors in hotel management. I studied at Institute of Hotel Management, Bangalore and life wasn’t that easy either as I faced harassment by many fellow students and seniors but I also made some great friends. I was happy here as it was a bigger city than my hometown where stepping out of my house was difficult and here I had a lot more freedom. I completed my degree and then started working with the BPO industry as they were offering a higher salary and working in the hotel industry as a boy wearing boys’ uniforms was a nightmare. BPO industry was way more relaxed and since communication has always been my strength, I had an amazing time talking to the American and European customers and many times they would call me mam over the phone which was a cherry on the cake. By then, due to some personal losses, I had given up the idea of sex change because i thought it would bring lot of shame and humiliation for my family and I was happy being seen as a homosexual, as it was way easier than saying to the world that I was a girl.
i worked with various top BPO companies for a span of 4 years and was a top performer in all of them. In 2008, I joined Deluxe media, a company that works on post production of movies, as a subtitle editor. I liked the people and the work a lot and I started to grow there as senior editor, team lead, senior team lead and I was overseeing and training a team of 40 to 50 people. In 2015, when the pressure to get married from my family started to get stronger, I started going into depression. I wanted to die. But life had different plans.
I watched a show on LGBTQ community in Satyameva Jayate which had a transwoman called Gazal who appeared in the show with her family. When I saw her, I saw myself. A girl who spoke, behaved, presented herself like any other girl and people loved her and respected her. I showed the episode to my mom and dad and told them this is what I was going to do. And after not listening to me for many many years, my mom and dad finally understood what was going on with their child and agreed for me to transition.
That was the turning point of my life.
Once I got the support from my family, I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I wrote an email to my entire office and explained my situation and told them I was going to transition. Since I had been an employee and a very good one for over 7 years, many people came out and supported me but then there were still a few who made fun and jokes. Transition was very difficult, at the same time most enjoyable experience of my life. 2 and half years of medicines, injections, mood swings, new feelings, new body, new face and everything new.
I also got a job as senior manager in a media company where I was making over a lac per month and people respected me and loved me for who I was and my work.
In Dec 2017, I went to Bangkok and got my sex reassignment surgery done which was the happiest day of my life. My mom and brother were with me in Bangkok and gave me all their love, care and support. It took 3 months to recover from the surgery after which I decided not to take up another job but try my luck at Miss Transqueen India pageant which had started only a year back.
There were many times in life when I could have broken down, given up, but I want to show India and the world, that when a girl, a trans girl, does the right things, follows the right path and is a good daughter and a good sister and doesn’t fall for wrong things and easy money, she can be as amazing as any other woman, I consider myself as an example of that and the reason I participated in this pageant is because I want to show all these things to the world and be an example for transwomen all around the world. It is not about outer beauty and getting surgeries to look pretty, but be a good person from inside. A good human being who can be looked as an equal and respected as an equal by everybody in the society.
The entire team of Miss Transqueen India, Reena Rai, the founder and Ruchika Jain, Jacqueline Jindal, Akshay Tyagi are an amazing set of people who are doing a very difficult task of empowering transwomen. I participated in this pageant which was held on October 7th in Mumbai and won the second place as the 1st runner up. The other winners in the pageant are getting immense support from their states of Chattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, but my state of Himachal Pradesh has been particularly silent, even after my win. The awareness on LGBTQ is very less in Himachal. I have to change that. I want respect and love and equality for not just transwomen but the entire LGBTQ.
It has been the proudest moment of my life. My mom is so proud of me who was present in Mumbai cheering for me. My next dream to not just be a model and actress but to go to an international platform and make my country proud and show the world how Indian transwomen have come a long way and are not just good looking, but smart, intelligent and ready for the world.