It’s always good to be different…appreciation comes easy then. The norm now puts you on a pedestal for being unique. But what if you are unique in the sense that you are just not in your body? What if the existential crisis has haunted you ever since you gained consciousness? That’s when growing up gets tougher, and sometimes you prepare yourself for the fall. But that’s also exactly when you pick yourself up and get ready to fight again. That’s what the 30-something transgender model Anjali Lama made out of her life. This year at the Lakme Fashion Week, she became the first transgender model to ever walk the Indian ramp. She made history.
Anjali was born into a farming family in Nuwakot, a district north-west of Kathmandu, Nepal, the fifth of the seven siblings. ‘My father always wanted a daughter because he had four sons before that. I was also born as a boy. But as I grew up, my behaviour started changing. I started behaving like a girl. I was dressed like a boy. So everyone in the family and in the village started teasing me. I felt mentally tortured. I used to wonder what was wrong with me.’
The term transgender made it to her books only when she came across a TV show on the LGBT community. After moving to Kathmandu and after being fired from her job, she came into contact with the Blue Diamond Society, an LGBT group in Nepal. That was the turning point; her life had begun again.
Later in 2009, she decided to pursue modelling with her slender frame and high cheekbones that always got her some wonderful compliments. It was during Anjali’s third try that she was successful in securing a place on the catwalk. Walking for Tarun Tahiliani and Anita Dongre are just some of her gold badges. The journey has just begun, she says. ‘I think the acceptance hasn’t been full. It is just the beginning… I think some transgender people are feeling more empowered than before.’
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani