Meera


Meera Sakhrani

Tell us a little about yourself. 
I was given the name Mehul at birth but now I prefer to be called Meera. I'm a make up artist by profession. I'm currently in the process of transitioning to the gender I identify with from the one assigned to me.
What was your childhood like?
Right from childhood I was very feminine. At that age you don't understand gender nor do you think about sexuality. But you're attracted to certain things and all my choices were supposedly 'girly'. As a 7 year old I'd cry to wear frilly socks instead of the regular kind. But society made me feel like all my innate preferences were wrong. I couldn't understand it at that point; I always assumed that I suffered from some sort of disease. I had to constantly remind myself that I was a boy and had to behave like one. 

Meera Sakhrani

Puberty is tough for any kid, but it must've been so much harder for you. 
I think puberty was probably the most difficult years. I started to grow facial hair and it felt so foreign - it didn't belong to my body. I stole my sister's hair removal cream and applied it all over my face! (I broke into a rash of course)
I was a great student though - I'd get the highest marks in math! But kids would bully me constantly, and even teachers would call me eunuch behind my back. Finally in grade 10 I dropped out of school. 
What did you do then?
I'd always wanted to be a make up artist. I enrolled myself in a course and became a hair dresser at a salon in Jaipur. In this way, for the first time, I was able to express myself. After which, I did a more intensive course in Chennai and eventually got a great job at INGLOT in Delhi. That was life altering for me. I found friends who also had similar struggles with gender (and sexuality), but more importantly who accepted me for who I am.
Meera Sakhrani
So you then identified as a gay man?

Correct. I was a 19 year old boy craving love and attention. I really wanted a boyfriend. In an effort to suppress my femininity I began to work on building muscle. I thought it would help me look more "manly". But - surprise surprise - it didn't fix me. 

I decided to focus on my career. I was shooting with cool + young brands such as Huemn and bhane. and meeting lots of people, which in turn opened many avenues for me. I am proud to say I'm 100% self made. I was making enough money at 19 to support myself and also sending money back home to my parents.

Meera Sakhrani
What was the tipping point for you?

I really believe in the power of nature. I'm a woman inside. I tried to hide it in all possible ways my entire life. Till it eventually reached the point that my body just couldn't keep up with all the lies. It was giving way. 

A couple of months ago I met with a psychologist because I was very depressed and didn't know why. He diagnosed me with Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder and suggested Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS). I discussed it with my mother and she was surprisingly okay with it.

It must be a long process of continuous discovery! 

I've just started cross dressing, I had to change my entire wardrobe! But people began addressing me as ma'am and it made me so happy. The first time I went to the ladies washroom was such an overwhelming experience. I felt like I was at home finally. I cried.

Meera Sakhrani
Best part of dressing "like a girl"?

I love wearing heels!!!

Worst part of dressing "like a girl"?

Bras.

After your SRS will you be happy?
I still don't know if I'll find true happiness. Like any other girl I dream of being happily married to a man. But there's still so much prejudice and social stigma in society that I don't know if any man will accept and love me as a woman. 

Any regrets?

I wish I'd been brave enough to do this earlier. 

What are you looking forward to?

I used to play badminton competitively as a young boy. But when I won I got beaten up by the other kids. After my surgery I want to take up the sport again - and play for India. That's my dream.

All photos by Tenzing Lhagyal.

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