Personal Stories

How I Found Refuge For My Gender Through Stand-Up

My story, the humor and the poetry of it was and is a reminder of my queerness, but the seemingly bizarre had no place for it on such a stage as this one, there was no coming out anymore.

Refuge for me has been a discovery; it’s not something that I had inherently, not for the reconciliation of my gender identity, never. So I came out. Coming out as a transwoman to my conservative Muslim family was a ride in a wasteland, of elation for me and misery for all of us equally, more or less is best known to the respective individuals.

The thing about pain that such misery brings is that it changes your worldview, you begin to attract more of it, and you identify with it, it asks you for a call to action. I told a joke.

However, to tell a joke I needed a stage. Act two was where I met the stage. The world’s a stage and we merely play a part, I played my part without my character (before accepting my gender identity). Now that I trace back I see things that affected my being, but not me, because I simply was not there. However sometimes you have to break the fourth wall, and say that person is not me, I am someone else, and right here. To break such fourth wall in a conservative Muslim family is to be excommunicated not out of hatred, but out of worldview. I remember trying to imagine how the down spiral of chaos visually happened within this short span of time, when I moved out of my home during a wedding. The stage was set for my reckoning my sister outed me to almost every relative. I was in a place where everyone had their own wisdom, opinions, and judgments to give. 

‘Stand-up began from a desire for a stage, to walking up on it with one leg shaking and not knowing whether it was anxiety or my Muslim tingle (of a ticking sound under the stage)’. That roughly sums up the intro for the act that elicited a conversation with humor for a comedian with her audience.

‘Hi my name is Eeva I use they/them and she /her pronouns, and the events of my story are true and all bollywood, because in my family we don’t call patriarchy, patriarchy. Instead it’s duniya ke liye aadmi, aadmi ke liye aurat, and I’m not an aurat.’ I said that at an event where trans people got a platform to tell their stories, where people like me, who shared struggles, battles that I could resonate with deeply, on a stage to an audience stranger and not, because it didn’t mattered. My story, the humor and the poetry of it was and is a reminder of my queerness, but the seemingly bizarre had no place for it on such a stage as this one, there was no coming out anymore. I already had a transcript on all that I wanted to say and in the manner I wanted it to reach the audience, but the surrealism of the event’s entirety, made my storytelling into a journey of rediscovery and reaffirming my identity, a journey of finding and loving my humanity. I realized that gender becomes irrelevant when one’s humanity is challenged, and all this time it was never about whether my own family was in acceptance of it, but I rather no longer appeared as human to them because of it.

I was taught that families stick together, but do they stick together by living together or by trusting each other, no matter how far or how different or distant circumstances seem. I know that it’s not their fault to be conditioned to react in the way they often do. To react in the way that strips me of my human desires, of my expression. The audience of the event changed it completely, I was no longer at mercy of people who were tolerant of me, and I felt equal and no more a misfit, among the beautiful I finally felt gorgeous for the first time in public.

The beautiful facticity of an audience in the first place was that they accepted the tremendous beauty of our individual stories, by simply choosing to be an audience. It meant that my story mattered, simply for the fact that I could share it with people. The stage was where I actually transitioned, and knew that the struggles haven’t ended, and that life can be rebuilt from who and what stayed after the show. In the end all I could do was show how grateful I was for them, that in this refuge they made me meet myself, and so my set ended with the lines, ‘mei aap sabki shukr-guzaar hu, aaj aap sabne mujhe meri chahat aur meine khudh ko apni pehchaan se milaya hai, thank you very very much, aur aaj iss baat pe yakeen ho gya ki ant mei sab theek ho jata hai, happies endings! Aur agar theek na ho, to wo the end nhi hai, transition abhi baaki hai mere dost…’.

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A content/copy/creative writer whose work and writing style articulates to provide a discourse to the image and perception she writes about. As a transwoman she embodies a strong sense of dismantling the stereotypes of dialogue that pertains to false & limiting notions of gender, and believes in co-existence of diversity rather than uniformity, be it through the work that gets published or the conversations of love and support of which she's part
Eeva S

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