Studying Abroad in India as an Queer Trans Person of Color
When coming to study abroad in India, you are coming into a new culture with new social norms that are completely different than anything else. Being a queer person in India is something completely different and means something completely different than anywhere else. I was worried about coming to India as a queer trans person of color. In the summer before leaving for India, my queer cousin sat me down and told me to be careful. Things were going to be different and I needed to be careful. Homosexuality is criminalized in India and in addition, Indians do not discuss sex nor sexuality. At least in the U.S. people are somewhat aware of how to be inclusive of LGBT students. The program does a good job trying to be as safe of a space for LGBT students as possible. Before first arriving in India, the program director Uttara sent an email of what I should expect going forward using my pronouns. It assured me that things were going to be okay when I got to India. Uttara has done such a great job of being a good resource to me. Last semseter, it was so difficult for me to be the only outwardly queer trans person of color in the program. I had to get used to people misgendering me which was a very painful process. Not all of my teachers know about my pronouns. The only person last semester who knew was my gender and media professor, the alliance people, the other students, and my host parents. I wont lie when I say it took a while for some teachers, students, and others to realize that they were misgendering me. There were many times when I came to Uttara in tears so tired and frustrated with people misgendering me and not understanding me. It still is frustrating at times. Its sad that I have had to learn to cope with people misgendering me rather than people understanding when they are misgendering me. I don't want this to be all doom and gloom because it shouldn't be. India's situation is different. I am used to being in an environment that is mostly LGBT or very inclusive. Coming to a society that doesn't talk about sex or sexuality, it is different. There are support groups here where you can discuss issues with and socialize. I went last semsester for my internship and it was really nice to be back in an LGBT space. This is most definetally at your disposal and could be a real support system for you. It can also be a way to understand the issues that LGBT people here are facing. This semester, having gone through all of the furstration before, I know who I can turn to. In addition, at school I rarely have issues at all with people misgendering me which is nice. It is nice to have one space where I won't be misgendered to feel validated while I am misgendered on the outside. Know when you come here that you do have resources such as Uttara and the support group available to you. You also always have me as a resource, no one understands more than I do.