Nepal is one of the most progressive country in the world from the point of view of LGBTIQ+ rights. The new Constitution - released in September 2015 - introduced a lot of improvements. The most relevant one is the introduction on ID documents of a third gender category labelled “O” (other), in addition to “F” (female) and “M” (male). The Blue Diamond Society, guided by the trans woman Sanjib Gurung, is the first and most important association concerning LGBTIQ+ rights in Nepal. It was founded in 2001 by Sunil Babu Pant, the first openly gay Nepali politician, and holds offices all over the country. It provides support to LGBTIQ+ people and families.
I lived with 2 transgender women who are active members of the Blue Diamonds Society, as well as sex workers during night. Their backgrounds are similar also: during school they felt affinities with girls rather than boys. They felt they were the same, in mind and bodies. The break up with the family was inevitable, and they found in the Blue Diamonds Society a safe place. Here they met people just like them, and they understood they were not the only ones. From this point, their stories are different. Rani left the family house when she was very young, but she and her family all live at the shadow of this taboo. Rani earns 5000 Nepali rupees or more for a date (around 40 €). Rani – means Queen – uses to dress the saari (the traditional female dress from the Indian subcontinent) and she takes more than one hour with the make-up, to respect the importance of her name. Tirthaman has a completely different story, common to many other transgender women I met. His family forced him to get married with a woman, just to stop the rumors about his sexual orientation. She is the only one who agreed to take a picture with his family. The others, at the end of the day, changed their minds. She showed herself to me as she really feels, in a little room she rents for hosting her clients. When she puts her wig on, she looked and me and said: I’m happy.
I also spent some weeks as witness of an astonishing event: Miss Pink, the election of the most beautiful trans woman in Kathmandu. Days and nights spent in practicing runways and sketches, choosing the right outfit and make up, training volunteers from public secondary school to manage the 6 hours event. I still feel blessed to be part of all this.
The Nepali reality, despite it is a progressive one, is still divided between culture and tradition. This reportage is focused on the importance of accepting identity, regardless of the concerns imposed by family and society. Thinking that people like Rani and Tirthaman are confused is a big mistake. For sure, they passed through instability, but when I watched them really becoming “themselves”, I felt without any doubt how they are comfortable behaving and appearing in that way. No hesitation, no doubt when they put the lipstick on. The pride to be back to their real themselves was priceless.