Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Gender Benders

Bruce Jenner was the ultimate male icon. At least during the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He bested the Soviets in Decathlon and was celebrated as an American Hero and even billed as ‘the world’s greatest athlete’. Cut to 1 June 2015. Jenner smashed another record. This time as a woman. She became the fastest to clock one million followers on twitter (FYI: 4 hours and 3 minutes)!

In less than 40 years, Bruce Jenner morphed into Caitlyn Jenner by becoming a transgender via the hormone replacement therapy. Along the way, he dropped enough hints that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’.

Lana Wachoswki, the director of Matrix trilogy, didn’t have it as easy. After contemplating suicide and being lampooned as a freak, Larry decided to come out of the closet and proclaim himself as Lana.

Like Lana, Georgina Beyer had her moments of self-doubt. But a prescient decision to change her name from George Bertrand, made all the difference to her destiny. She became the world’s first transsexual mayor and then went on to be the world’s first transsexual parliamentarian.

Ramesh Venkatesan would have been yet another web designer had he overlooked his urge to start dressing as a woman. The courage to openly embrace his feminity led him to assume the identity of Rose Venkatesan. Today Rose is a celebrity TV anchor with a thriving movie career.

The journey from Ramesh to Rose is not a particularly simple ride. One has to face a lot of red tape to assume the new identity. The first step is to get a gender change affidavit backed by a psychological assessment. Next you’ll have to place two newspaper ads citing your name change. Then you’ll have to repeat this procedure in a government gazette. Using these notifications, you can eventually apply for change of gender and name in your passport and other things official.

There’s been a lot of speculation about how transgenders choose their new name. Some like a legacy name (Alexander to Alexandra). Some prefer a polar opposite (Raja to Rani). Some opt for dedications (Bruce Jenner considered Brigitte as a nod to Brigitte Bardot). Some others revel in the whimsical (Mr. Hillard to Mrs. Doubtfire). Whatever you choose, you’ve got to realise that it’s no longer odd to be queer.