-Akshay J Ganesh
“My dysphoria was also at an all-time high during the pandemic.”
Durjoy always dressed more masculine, even from childhood. Having menstrual cycles during teenage years deeply affected him. "My voice was feminine, [...] so I didn't talk much", which made socialization difficult. Studying at an all-girls school & college worsened the dysphoria. Once he started transitioning in his second semester of college, he had to leave because it was an all-girls college. However, as his voice deepened, he gained more confidence in himself & mental health improved. "Now I can see myself as I have been picturing myself." He started looking after himself much better. While his parents took some time to understand, they were strong pillars of support.
The community in Kolkata was also helpful during lockdown, especially with hormone-monitoring tests & awareness programs. Even for some financial help, the community was there. "[But] I wouldn't say it's just the community. In general, you'll meet people who are supportive & have a positive effect on you & some who have a negative effect".
Another stage was when he was working in an industry away from home, with heavy manual labor. However, he wasn’t properly briefed on the occupational hazards including detrimental gas exposure affecting his breathing, and the toxic workplace environment was damaging his mental health. "I'm telling them that I can't work in that certain area, I'm crying every day going to work & they're forcing me to go and work." The unnecessary shouting for everything didn't help either. While he made complaints to HR & higher authorities, it was futile. When people asked him why he didn’t go higher, he says “Talking about something that has traumatized you over & over again to higher & higher levels of authority, reliving it affects you.” So despite the existing financial constraints which made the choice even more difficult, he left, prioritizing his physical & mental health. "I tried. I was facing this for a long time. My health kept deteriorating. I'm [still] having breathing problems."
In the final part, Durjoy speaks to what has kept him going on this journey & his hope for the future.