Love begins with you! | Saniya Sood | TEDxNITH

so we were standing on the stage holding each other's hands our breath still and it was the moment I have been waiting for all my life and finally they announced my name first runner-up for Miss trans Queen India 2018 it was it was the most magical moment it was something I had been waiting for a long time and all those hours that I had spent in the gym working on myself or learning how to perfectly walk in those high heels are walking on the ramp in front of a huge audience for the first time it was all worth it being a beauty queen was a dream of mine since I was a kid just like many other girls I'm sure but back then everyone used to tell me that it was the wrong gene and it would take me a very very long time to understand why yes I'm a trans woman many of you might know about this a lot of people think about us as gay or transgender so generally that we're confused but I want to set the record right that we are not confused I was never confused even at the age of five when I was a little kid I knew it deep inside that I was a girl without the slightest doubt in my mind what was really confusing was the people around me and how they were reacting towards me and at the age of five I did not know what being a boy or being a girl meant I just was being myself and think about it your gender is not defined by a body bars if a man met with an accident that damaged his private parts he would not sudden want to become a woman he would still be who he is he would try to surgically correct his body the best he can and that's exactly what I did so I fail to understand sometimes that what is it so difficult about trans women and people don't understand or don't want to accept being from shimla which is a very small town it only added to my problems as a kid it was it was extremely difficult to waking up on waking up every day and getting ready to step out in the world just to face their cruel pranks their abuses and getting mocked at getting laughed at and I I really sometimes don't want to even like you know I don't like to think about my childhood because I feel that was the worst phase of my life and I wish I truly wish that no child ever has to go through that so while I was struggling with the demons of gender dysphoria I always thought that I wanted to go as far as possible from my home where nobody knows me and I can probably live a better life so when I was 17 I moved to Bangalore for my college and it was slightly better people used to think of me as a homosexual person and I was happy letting them think like that because to be very honest it's slightly easier to come out and live in the society today as as homosexual as opposed to coming out as a chance because that raises far more eyebrows and homosexuals are people who are extremely comfortable with their bodies and who they like but that wasn't the case with me I was in a cage it was like a jail I was hiding behind my own bodies so that nobody would see the real mean it was really difficult and do you imagine that so many trans women who were forced to leave their houses when they were young kids they never got good education they don't have any job opportunities the forced to get into begging on the streets or to do sex work because the society doesn't give them any other options I chose to do modeling because it was my dream it had been my dream since I was a kid and although it took me a very long time to get to that but when when I was really struggling with with my identity and although I had discovered that you know I was the trans woman it's the fear of coming out as a trans woman to your family to your friends to anybody was huge so I decided to live my life the way it was and not tell anybody about the real me because I felt that my happiness would cost me my family's happiness and that is not something I wanted but I was lucky there was a show called septum HEA which aired an episode on LGBT community and featured a trans woman called gazelle when I saw ghazal I saw myself in her I saw I it was my story I was in tears but I decided to take a leap of faith and send that video to my parents and I hoped that they would support me this time and I was lucky they did the journey of transitioning began the transition journey can be excruciatingly painful both emotionally and physically and it's usually a five year long process and I'm currently in my fourth year once I had my sex reassignment surgery I could have gone back to buy nine-to-five job which is what I have been doing for a very long time but I decided to choose modeling because that was a gene and although for a trans woman who was about 30 it is not easy to be a model but I like challenges and that is why I decided it because I had spent a long I had spent a lot of my life you know not accepting myself not accepting my feelings and living by the standards that were set by others so I was not going to make the same mistake again this time I wanted to take charge of my life and follow my dreams and that's exactly what I did coming from a corporate background with no experience in modeling with no experience in facing cameras it was difficult but then in the end I did emerge as a winner I think a lot of you are probably might relate to this because there's there's so much of us so many of us who don't get to follow our dreams or do what we really want because sometimes sometimes we just have to go for the other options because we you know we're under some kind of pressure or sometimes it takes you a very long to real a long time to realize what it is that you actually want but trust me as long as you stay true to yourself and you follow your dreams it's going to be fine I transitioned up the 20 and my life completely changed after that that's because one day I just decided to so can you so can anybody it just takes one decision to turn your life around and I'm here to break the stereotypes people have a lot of stereotypes for trans women how trans women look how they talk how they work how they behave there's so many stereotypes and I'm going to shatter all those stereotypes I think today people want you too much too soon and although it's not bad to be ambitious I think half the fun is lost if your journey is not as beautiful as a destination because every step of the journey you get a chance to learn and be a better version of yourself you just need to decide one day it need to accept who you are you need to accept your dreams and you just need to start following them and once you do that trust me everything will fall into place thank you [Applause]

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