Monica Roberts Essay Contest 2022 Runner Up
By: Praveen (Kalhara)
My previous name is Prasadika and my new name is Praveen, who is writing this story. A Sri Lankan citizen, I was the 6th child in a family of two brothers and four sisters. My father worked as a wage earner in a fertilizer warehouse and took care of us by selling fruits and vegetables on holidays. Mother did not work. I have spent time with my father since childhood. He wanted to see me as a boy.
I was always a quiet person who liked to be alone. But the friends of the village where I live and the life I live there are beautiful, sometimes disobedient, free in character. His hair was cut short, he wore shorts, his upper body was naked, and he was as simple as a little boy without shoes. The villagers call me “Baby Boy.” I ride bikes and climb trees. Swimming in streams and hanging out with boys was a wonderful childhood. I had no influence from home. I had freedom. Despite all that, I successfully completed my schooling.
School days were not so beautiful. I always felt strange there. I loved being alone because of fear, unfamiliarity, peer rejection. I had no friends at school. I faced a lot of trouble in school due to my poor vision in one eye. When the blackboard is out of sight, I look at the book of the person next to me.
Sometimes books are hidden. Teachers punish me. Sometimes they are kicked out of the class and ordered to stay outside. When a medical team came to the school to check the children’s illnesses, they diagnosed my poor eyesight and informed the parents and gave me classes as a temporary remedy. After that my learning became easier. School teachers, peers, and my family strongly thought that I would fail the exams. But I secretly made a target for all of them and studied from midnight till morning. While at home waiting for the exam results, my father fell ill and died of a heart attack. I was very lonely after my father’s death. I felt like I had lost the most precious thing in my life. According to the exam results, I passed. Everyone was surprised. But unfortunately, father was not there to see the exam results.
Seeing the changes in my body over time made me feel very sad about myself. Although I wear a frock as a school uniform, I never wear other women’s clothes. Wearing women’s underwear and having to wash and dry it is humiliating. I felt like I was in the wrong body. No matter how many people are around us, we all feel lonely at times. All the while I secretly cry. There was no one to tell or listen to. I had to live without showing all my feelings. I thought endlessly how precious it was to be born a perfect boy.
When I was in high school, I met someone special. We studied together. Went to extra classes. She listened to everything I said. She was very close to my life. We both appeared as good friends in society, so we did not have a problem. But there was a great bond between us. We often talked about the future of life. I lived in her mind as her lover. At times she worried about my true self. We searched books, magazines, and the internet for information about trans people. Doctors checked. One day there was an article in a newspaper about trans people. We went to many private hospitals with the letter, but the people there mocked me and asked me to take the necessary medicine saying that I am mentally ill. After that we did not visit any doctor. I thought that after my education I would be self-employed and find doctors who would meet my needs.
I took a graphic design course and later started and ran my own small business with the help of my family. My girlfriend met and married a boyfriend while studying nursing and working as a nurse. Even though I had thoughts of ending my life, while my life fell apart from time to time, I always thought that life would eventually lead to my purpose. I went alone and met a doctor and got the necessary advice and treatment. Now my transition period is about 2.5 years.
Although there was opposition from home, they later agreed to my decision. Due to some problems in the country where I live, my dedication was not stopped. Even though there are various people who influence my life, I don’t let it hinder my life journey.
Transition is a time of many challenges. A boy should be accepted as a girl. A girl should be accepted as a boy. According to the mental level of different people in one society, something is different in terms of understanding and vision. That’s sometimes a problem for extroverts. When certain changes occur in the body, it takes time to get used to it: behaving, adapting to society, providing security, having to buy and choose underwear, using public toilets, when sick and hospitalized, when having to prove identity in certain legal proceedings. But all those challenges have to be faced.
Now I think that in this spirit one should devote himself to what he likes. No matter how much trouble life throws at us, our strength should be strong. Look at your life beautifully, don’t let others make decisions about our lives. Also, I want to tell the readers of this story one more important thing. Socialize your children as girls and boys, and find out what they think. Ask or one day he will be alone, committing suicide or facing various problems.
You have to give in to the desires of different people. Many people in society are interested in being transgender. But they do not know the correct information. They cannot get help from everyone because this is the problem of life. I would like to help such people as much as possible. One day they will live beautifully and happily because of me. It is a blessing in my life.
My feeling is that even if the beginning of a difficult journey is bitter, the end should be beautiful.