“I am a woman born in the wrong body. I tried for a long while to compromise on how I felt on the inside. But during adolescence I realised that my urge to dress in a woman’s clothing and act like one could no longer be suppressed. In order to get away from my family and have the freedom to do what I wanted, I chose to work in a drayang. I always loved dancing and for someone as misunderstood as me, the only place to be who I was without hesitation was at a Drayang.

My elder brother has always been strongly against it. But he is more repulsed by me wearing a kira and living the life of a woman than dancing in a drayang. On the day he found the drayang I was working at, he climbed onto the stage while I was performing and slapped me in front of everyone. Humiliated and hurt, I ran away and sought refuge in a friend’s house. I thought time would heal and change things. I worked at different drayangs, against my family’s wishes. It was the only place where I found acceptance and was able to be free of ostracization. I never wanted to hurt my family. But trying to please everyone is the toughest thing to do. You cannot make everyone like you no matter what you do so you have to do whatever makes you happy. My brother, despite being family, treated me very roughly and although it might have been tough love, I didn’t deserve it. I just needed a little acceptance and compassion.

Unfortunately, it only got worse. I had run away from home before I had an accident and was hospitalised. People who knew me informed my family so my brother came to me and he forcefully took me back home. My parents wanted me to leave my obsession with the drayangs and the stage so they sent me away to become a monk. My mother told me if I don’t become a monk, they will disown me. My hair was shaved and I had to live in a dratsang with several others. However, the monks and the teachers there also come from the same society as my family so I continued to find myself in tough situations. Punishment was a regular thing for young monks but in my case it was severe. The head monk told me at a few instances to act like a man. I was not accepted there at all, and I knew I could not go on like this. I needed to live a life beyond the sphere of family and society. Even as a monk, I was not given the simplest dignity of being a human being. So I left. I ran away and now I am seeking shelter at the houses of people I know from my drayang days.

All the drayangs have been closed because of the pandemic and so many dancers have lost their jobs. But once the drayangs open up, I am going to look for a spot and work there again. Pleasing the society is when most of us destroy our mental health. This time, I have made up my mind – I am going to exercise my rights to report any assault so I really hope that my brother or family do not repeat their acts. Family is supposed to be a place where you find acceptance, love, and a sense of community. Without that, a family is just another group of people.”

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