EPISODE — 2
REINFORCEMENT OF DYSPHORIA BY THE HEALTH SECTOR
In this episode, we talk to our guest about how the real awareness and knowledge about the queer community comes not from books and theories, but from the community itself! With today is Prathyush who is a trans* man, and is currently working as a Marketing Manager for a market research company. He has completed his bachelor’s in English from Hansraj College and further pursued his Master’s in Fashion Management from NIFT Bangalore. He opens up about his experiences, how he approaches the healthcare system and provides extremely valuable insight into navigating life from his perspective.
RFK: So hi Prathyush. Thank you so much for your time. It’s great to connect with you. We are glad that you’re here.
Prathyush: Thank you. The pleasure is all mine.
Rangeen Khidki: So, do you want to add on to what we said, do you want to tell us anything more about yourself?
Prathyush: Yes, sure. So hi everyone. Let me introduce myself again, I am Prathyush. And so apart from my qualification, I’m a person who is very interested in photography. I have a, you know, my basic major interest towards fashion actually started from photography and you know, it further grew into something professional, but the field has been different somewhere. Although yes, my hobbies are photography, art, painting, Madhubani art. So that has been all about me, as a person, I believe, you know, I believe in this policy of live and let live. And so since then, I have been pretty vocal about my thoughts and my opinions to people around me, so I’m more, majorly believe, rather than, you know, social activation, but more than that, I believe in the idea of, you know, cleaning or trying to make your inner circle aware and, like the outer part. So that’s been my thought process as of now. Yeah. And that’s about me.
Rangeen Khidki: That’s great to hear Prathyush, that’s so great to hear, and we’re looking forward to seeing some of your art after this.
Prathyush: Yes. If I have it, I don’t know. It’s not on my phone. So let me see.
Rangeen Khidki: Okay, sure. All right. So going ahead, let’s start with, you know, the basics. You identify as a part of the queer community. So how has that changed your approach to issues of healthcare and medical treatment, if at all?
So, as being part of the community, as it has actually legit taught me, on you know, being there and, you know, hearing your peers who are part of the community, like, you know, they are so vocal about their thoughts, their opinions, and then, you know, you learn a lot. You get to learn how to be vocal about and how to be expressive about yourself, and you know, how to stand up for your, you know, rights. So, that said, that has somewhat kind of sort of helped me whereas I was a very, shy person who could be very, you know, laid back or really scared of approaching any sort of medical facilities or thinking about anything…
Approaching any particular sect or any particular section, in terms of you know, which related me to, which actually related me to come out or be more expressive in my own self. So any institution for that matter. So, being part of the community actually helped me get out of that stigma of being held or being scared of letting yourself out.
Rangeen Khidki: Right, so, Prathyush, you know, you talked about being scared of, you know, approaching a medical care facility or a medical care professional. And so, what has your, what is your thought process now, you know, you say that you’re, you feel a lot more confident because of the community. What is your thought process now, as compared to what it used to be while you are, you know, about to visit a hospital or a health care professional? What’s your thought process?
Prathyush: So, it’s majorly, you know, it majorly revolves around the idea of how the other person would perceive. So for a person, like you know, I’m a trans* man and you know, I have like major, like, it’s, it varies for different people, but I have major dysphoria, and that major dysphoria arises from the fact that how the other person identify me as. How they, you know, the kind of pronouns that they use, how they even try to approach me as. So, you know, the initial stigma that comes into my mind while approaching a medical facility is that the category that they divide, like, you know, how they put you in a category of a particular gender? Right, there is no, there’s no other you know, there’s another category which would, you know, make a person feel more safe or feel more welcomed. So, I have to generally, like whenever I’m approaching a medical facility, I usually have to go as a, you know, identify as a female and approach them with that. Because, you know, these medical issues, any medical issues that arise, they have to be like, you know, related to a particular gender or, you know, a particular genitalia right, for that matter. So, this becomes a very tricky situation, and this is the only area which actually puts me in a lot of, you know, problems or issues in my own head. So, I’m like, you know, I don’t usually go. So that’s one of the major reasons I’ve never approached any medical facility for that matter, because it’s just something which I do not feel welcome. And, you know, it’s something, it’s an area where you know, you have to put yourself in a particular box, which is what like, you know, a very, you know, like this pulls down new energy. So that’s one thing.
Rangeen Khidki: And would you say that this hetero normativity in, you know, medical spaces has ever led you to avoid visiting a healthcare unit altogether? Like, have you ever chosen to avoid visiting a doctor at all?
Prathyush: Yes, I have. For the longest time, So basically, I’ll tell you this one particular situation, for the longest time. So I have a lot of burns in my leg, bottom area, and that happened due to a certain child- a little accident that happened in my childhood, and I have major burns. So as a child, I was not allowed to get it treated because of the heavy operation that was supposed to be involved. And for the longest time, and what they suggested me to, you know get it operated or remove the burn marks removed, after I like, reach a certain age. So it would be less painful. But, but what happened was like I was just, you know, avoiding that situation for the longest time, because I would have to show my, you know, inner thigh area and you know, certain way where it will be just, you know, I operated and where I would be treated a certain way. I have to be like, very shy and you know, I’m approached as a girl, so that was something which was holding me back. But when I finally visited, it did put me in a box, one thing and that hetero normativity was something that was like, you know, pulling pulls you back in taking certain actions. So, yes, I couldn’t, really for the longest time when I actually came to terms with it I had to get myself I did go for it…
Hello… I cannot hear you… (connectivity issue).
Rangeen Khidki: Alright, so, you know, continuing with this theme of hetero normativity in medical places. So Prathyush, can you, you know, when you visit, like a hospital or a clinic what are some of the things that you, you know, that you have to face? Do you ever feel unwelcomed in these situations because of your gender expression? Do you feel that? Yeah, do you feel any of that?
Prathyush: So so whenever I approach a medical facility, I don’t have like I, I cannot, you know, be myself. I have to go with a pretence, like and I have to pretend to be someone I’m not, I don’t identify as. So I just put on this veil of you know, being a woman and then I approach any medical facility. That’s the most uncomfortable part for me. And because I have to. And, you know, for the like, you know, the idea that I might be, I might get certain weird looks if I go as a person I identify as, is what kind of dreads me. Because I don’t want to be like, I’m not very comfortable. Like you know, I see a lot of people who identify themselves as… and they’re very comfortable in their own skin. Right. And then they express themselves very wholeheartedly. But when it comes to me, I am quite, I quite dread the idea of how a person would perceive me, how the other person would even talk to me when I fully express myself. And even if I do, what if they still go on to, you know, so I currently like as of now, I pass as a man very well, but when as soon as like, even when there’s a person who just uses the wrong pronouns for me uses the wrong gender, like, you know, it becomes very difficult for me to express myself a certain way. So it’s just like, I’m always whenever I’m approaching medical facilities, I’m just going pulling these like, you know, like, I’m just pretending to be someone I’m not so yes, I approach a medical facility as you know, as a woman.
RFK: Yeah.I mean, you talk about you know being uncomfortable, and it only makes one wonder that, how does this, how does feeling uncomfortable with approaching basic facilities, how does that have, what kind of impact does it have on your mental health? Do you feel that your queer identity or its perception and impact on your interpersonal relationships has affected your mental health?
Prathyush: So yes, it has for the major part of my life. I have tried to also approach a medical facility for this particular matter. Like, I’ve tried to take counselling. So again, the kind of sensitivity that you express like that you expect from a medical facility, that does not come, that does not happen. So you know, this is something that you know, it’s just like, I don’t know how to express this, but it does, you know, it does affect you a lot in your interpersonal relationships.
You try to, you just end up having no expectations from people. You think everybody falls into that same section, nobody would be understanding and, and I don’t know like for me as a person, I couldn’t express myself for the longest period of time. So I would just be expressing myself as someone I would just like, try to fit into their shoes and try to express myself as they see me.
And, yeah, you know, my surroundings or my areas, it. Does affect my mental health. But I’ve tried to like, you know, it has only bogged me down further, in terms of how I’m not able to, express myself fully and, you know, it’s something like you want to be like, you know, there are certain… like I really appreciate a lot of people who are so bold about expressing themselves, how they identify and they, they’re very outspoken about it. Whereas it comes to me, my experiences like in these terms have actually bogged me down, so I am not very expressive and bold when it comes to that because it’s how I constantly feel. Yes, that’s that.
Rangeen Khidki: You know, one would expect a mental health professional to be more understanding or, you know, understanding of a person’s situation but as you tell us, that even mental health professionals are not free from all kinds of judgement. So, do you feel, you know that there is a need to improve, improve the way people view this issue? What is the way forward in your opinion, for making not only mental health professionals and you know, in office and doctors, but also people in general what is the way forward to make them more sensitive towards the issues of the queer community?
Prathyush: Right, so I have like, a very short sentence or a small thing to say. You know, not a lot of things come from knowledge, bookish knowledge. You might one day read about a topic and you will try to execute that in your daily life. It does not happen. It happens when you are actually, you know. when you know, the learning happens with certain, you know, by exposing yourself to the environment, which would actually legit educate you. I have always been a firm believer in that, where education would not come from books, education comes from people. If you really are intrigued to learn about the topic or like I myself, you know, learned a lot about different gender identities, sexualities, I learned that from people around me. They taught me how it is sort of like, you know, I exposed myself, like that was for me being really… I’m not I was not a social person. But I did make an effort to, you know, go be part of the community. You know, go to parties, queer parties, which would help me educate myself to see, come across a lot of people who identify as a different, different gender as mine, and you know, it’s something that helps you, helps you educate yourself on how to be very sensitive to people around you. So it’s still more than like, you know, reading on a book, it will, maybe it will, you will just remember it for a day or two. But when you actually come across people who are from different backgrounds who are from different, who identify as different gender expressions, that’s when you learn to be sensitive.
Rangeen Khidki: That was short but profound, very profound indeed Pratyush. And so, what, you know, what is your vision for our society? How do you see us? You know, what kind of society do you feel would be more conducive to people being able to express themselves, to be people being able to identify truly as they are in public as well as in the confines of their safe spaces?
Prathyush: I think, the only way towards it is people being non-judgmental, like people not caring what, how the other person is actually, or people showing less interest in other people’s life. In terms of how they are, how they present themselves. You just, you know, you just be normal towards it. For me, I have felt the most comfortable around people who didn’t really care how I express myself. They would just you know, to them, it’s just, you know, you’re just another human. So you just treat everybody as a human rather than person belonging to a particular category or gender. So that goes as a whole to anybody. Not just a person identifies as person from the community. It goes to someone who comes from, you know, comes from a section, a lower, like you know, comes from a very, a section that has been deprived for the longest or anything like that, you know. So, for that matter, I would say is its just, I see a society when humans treat to each other as humans Other than that, nothing else, there should be no labels as such, which would, you know, categorise them or divide each other. It’s just a human. That’s it.
Rangeen Khidki: Wow, that was a very interesting perspective that you’ve shared with us. Thank you so much, Prathyush.We have learned so much from you and from your journey. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Thank you for choosing our platform to share your perspective. And we truly, truly are honoured to have you share your journey with us. And I hope that you know, I hope that things do feel better. And yeah, thank you so much for joining us.
Prathyush: Thank you so much, guys. It’s my first time. So I’d like, very interesting to be part of the podcast also. So it’s a new experience for me as well.
Rangeen Khidki: That’s great.
This article has been transcribed by Rishma Banerjee, Junior Research Manager at Rangeen Khidki Foundation