Dr. Sofia (not her real name), an anesthesiologist and an assistant professor in a medical college, in an interview to Times of India– a leading English newspaper, has talked about her journey of self discovery as a transgender and the dangers of starting hormone therapy by many transgenders without proper medical supervision. She will be speaking in Chennai on June 17th at an event being conducted by SAATHI, Sahodaran, and Orinam as part of the pride celebrations being held in the city throughout June and July.
Currently 36 yrs old, it took Sofia 29 years to realize that she was a woman trapped inside a man’s body. “Understanding and coming to terms with one’s gender identity is a long, painful and difficult process for a transgender person,” she tells. Born in a village in Mumbai and having completed studies from Pune, she decided to pursue Medicine as she was fascinated by human body. “Though I considered myself a girl, I was confused as I was treated like a boy by others,” she speaks about her confusion.
Sofia also tells about how outdated information in the curriculum of MBBS regarding homosexuality further confused her and sent her to depression. “In 1997, when I was in my second year of MBBS, I had to do a course in forensic medicine, which had a chapter on sexual deviations. As I read about abnormal behaviour, which included homosexuality, I panicked. Guilty and ashamed, I started becoming more religious and withdrew from everyone… I tried to look more like a man and grew my beard.”
Her parents later got her engaged to a girl, but the girl’s father broke off the engagement suddenly. This jolted Sofia, who then came out to her parents. Her father took her to a psychiatrist, who told him that homosexuality is not a disease. She then got into a relationship with a man who was attracted to cross-dressers and started taking hormone pills on her own. But when the relationship ended after a year, she realized that the self hormone treatment had cause her body more harm, “After a year, the relationship ended and I began looking weird. My feminization was not proper and I had become fat.”
After seeking proper medical guidance, Sofia then started the hormone therapy again and is currently transitioning. She says her colleagues know about her and are very supportive. She further adds that there is a need to speak up against the dangers of taking hormone pills without proper medical supervision. “I have decided to talk about my experience in public for the first time as many transpeople begin taking hormones without realizing its impact on the body. You can become obese, get depression, develop diabetes, get heart disease or have a stroke,” she says.
Her advice to transpeople is to be open about their sexuality only after achieving a certain degree of financial stability.