Personal Stories

Dealing With Being A Fetish – The Trans Take

I have realised that my body is the place of curiosity for many straight men. I am a fetish, I am forbidden pleasure, I am desire, but I am not status quo and the validation that these men are looking for in this cis-heteropatriarchal world.

I grew up in a world where I have never seen anyone like me on screen. I have always felt that my experiences are isolated and only mine. Sitting in theatre halls I have dreamt about romance, love, marriage, lust and believing that I will get all that the heroine of the film is so easily availing for herself, or for that matter even women around me are. Growing up, men and boys did like me. I did get attention. I was pursued, courted, kissed, promised and then ghosted. A never-ending cycle, until realisation hit hard. I am trans*. I am a woman for both personal and political reasons. And being predominately heterosexual and fem, presenting my aspirations around romantic love has been conditioned into me as something that I ought to need the most in my life.

I have pursued love, romance and stability. I have sought relationships with men to feel validated. But no more. The reason stems from both self-awareness as well as trauma. I have realised that my body is the place of curiosity for many straight men. I am a fetish, I am forbidden pleasure, I am desire, but I am not status quo and the validation that these men are looking for in this cis-heteropatriarchal world. I am to explore, I am a rush of adrenaline, I am an adventure, but I am not stability, longing or companionship. My quest for love has awakened me, my trauma has urged me to scrutinize my own desires and how heteronormativity has shaped them.

If anybody has to profit from my trauma, it is to be me and only me. Men desire me and I desire them. I have sex with them, but I do not see them as people; just tools to feel pleasure. I have felt guilty about this long enough. I have felt that there is something wrong with me, or rather I am inhuman. I am perpetrating the same violence on men that I have faced, and am constantly facing even now. But is it really so? Do cis het men also have to navigate through a system which constantly tries to exploit them, oppress them and erase their experiences? Am I being violent or am I surviving and protecting myself from mental, emotional, sexual and physical absuse? Pleasure is something that is often demanded from me, for free, without return.  If men fetishize my anatomy, so be it, if in the process I am able to receive pleasure, I do not mind. If men believe that all trans* women are sex workers, so be it, if I am able to benefit from the process. It is not my responsibility to educate anybody; it is not my labour to take on.

People often ask me what I live for, what is my purpose. My purpose can be many things and is many things, but it is definitely not to relive my trauma over and over again in the process of educating people. My lived  experiences have given me knowledge but that needs to be paid for and recognized. “I live for Euphoria” has been my answer to many people who have been asking me about love, lust and relationships, for sometime now. I am not completely free of heteropatriarchal conditionings, and neither is it possible to be when the world is not yet feminist. I want to go on dates, I want to feel wanted and I have found my way. I do need men to feel good about myself, to feel validated, but I do not need them for companionship. A friend had recently told me that hyper- independence is a trauma response, and I agree. But the truth is I am dependent on many people like my sisters, my friends, my family of choice. With dependency comes hurt along with care. And I am ready to take the good and the bad, but only for those people to whom my experiences are valid and who share solidarity with me. To only those people to whom I do not have to constantly rationalise my identity and to whom I am a person beyond my body and gender.

I am thriving in every possible way and I am proud of it. I am not always right nor have I healed. All of these are my simultaneous realities and they can exist together. Do I desire a better world where I have more than what I can have now? Yes! I do. I want more profound laws to protect my civil rights and with that I want a couple of more things. I want to scream, to let the world know that I am capable of imagination but I am not an imagination. I have power and I require respect not worship or to be put up on a pedestal, I am not a goddess, a fantasy, a perk, a mouth and an asshole. I am human, I feel, I breathe, I desire, I love, I need and I want. This is not a hopeless cry and whining about not having, it is letting the world know that I deserve all of it and only when the world is able to provide for me in abundance am I to be held accountable. I do not belong, therefore I will not justify when I say ‘men are trash’ unapologetically. Signing off with anger, pride and of course love.

This story was about: Community Gender Sexuality Trans

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Riju Banerjee is 27 years old and works at The YP Foundation. She is a Teach for India alumni who is passionate about human rights, mental health, social emotional learning, writing, film making and intersectional feminism. She is an educator who strongly believes in inclusive education and is an advocate of children's voices and agency.
Riju Banerjee

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