Where do you think movies are inspired from? No, not the one that leaves you with constipation but the one that challenges the society and its rules.
Naaz’s story is no less than a movie — but this heroine got through all the hardships and struggles in her life — and she always came out fiercer and stronger!
Her story started way back when she was in kindergarten — living her first stage performance at the age of 4, performing as a doll. She always loved dolls! She loved makeup, acting, and most of her stage performances in school were of a female protagonist. “I never had to accept myself! I always knew that I was a woman. The difference is that this world saw the woman in me much later than I spotted her,” speaks Naaz Joshi, the protagonist of my story who went on to make world records.
When her parents realized about her sexual identity and her love for dolls, they were shaken — no, not because she loved dolls, but because their ‘son’ loved dolls!
We have been conditioned to this pseudo fact since the puratan kaal — that, a girl always likes dolls & pink colour and that, a boy cannot like anything else other than superheroes, cars and motorbikes, and of course, blue colour!!
Naaz’s femininity became a shame to her siblings in school, so she was sent to boarding and, till date, is not allowed to meet any of her relatives. Her parents were ashamed of her, and they still are, and her mother never let her have that mother-daughter bond which her sister is blessed with.
She has always been deprived of her parents’ love since a tender age. She studied by herself, worked by herself and learnt the basic equations of duniyadaari on her own. But this was not enough for the young child; she was yet to see a lot more.
While she was away from her parents, she was molested by her paternal uncle. She was raped by her cousins and also harassed by her school teachers.
She started working in a dance bar at the age of 11, and completed her schooling. At 18, she took the entrance exam and got admitted in NIFT. Her cousin sister Viveka Babajee sponsored her education. She got the opportunity to work with giants like Ritu Kumar and Ritu Beri, but her coworkers rejected her. She decided to go for sex reassignment surgery, but the amount was unaffordable. She worked as a sex worker, and in 2013, she became the woman she always wanted to be!
She soon got into modelling after that, and in 2015, she became India’s first trans cover model. She won many pageants and also started her own pageant house ‘Mrs India Home Makers’. The same year, she also represented India at the United Nations and got Miss United Nations Ambassador title.
Later she also participated in Miss Republic international Beauty Contest Singapore and won Miss United Nations Ambassador again in 2017. She won the title of Miss World Diversity in 2017, again in 2018 in Dubai and then in 2019 in Mauritius. The same year, she also made a record of winning this prestigious title thrice in a row.
Miss World Diversity was conducted online this year, and Naaz won it again, against all the odds. The beautiful irony is that all the contests and titles won by Naaz were against cis-women. She became India’s First International Trans Beauty Queen and World’s First Trans Model to win a female pageant.
Life was treating her exactly like the queen that she always wanted to be. However, the men in her life failed in that. Generally, love gives people a chance, but Naaz gave love chances twice but only to get rejected by men because she was a transwoman and not a ciswoman!
I wonder if a transwoman is not a real woman? Who are we to judge and decide that?
But as they say, nothing can stop a woman! Naaz adopted a baby girl in 2018 who turned two this year. She also adopted another girl child this year. The motherhood blessed Naaz with probably the best of what it could. “I am happy with my kids. I am staying with my father these days as he is diagnosed with liver cancer, stage four. It’s painful and really hurting to see him like this. My mother still hates me and abuses me verbally and physically often,” Naaz further says in an exclusive interview with Infano.
Even after taking our country to the international level, our janta still doesn’t leave a chance to insult her and spare her. She often faces discrimination in hospitals, hotels, public places, while looking for rented apartments. But she calls herself too strong to be shaken or broken by such ‘petty’ incidents. She tries to take lessons from every wrong decision that she made and strives to improve daily.
Naaz further wants to venture in acting. She has done small workshops with artists like Divya Dutta, Kalki Koechlin, Gaurav Alagh, Faraz Mariam Ansari, etc. She will soon be seen in director Shiraz Henry’s Beyond 2 as well. She also wishes to build an orphanage for girl children and teach them self defence.
She believes that every individual is different, and each of them looks at life differently. She encourages people to accept who they are — irrespective of their gender. To come out of the closet, to take life as a blessing and not a curse, to always look out for opportunities is what Naaz believes in. “Never give up! I never imagined myself as a beauty queen or a speaker in my 30s but see, anything and everything is possible. All you need to do is to spread your rainbow wings and fly high,” Naaz says while encouraging the LGBTI community.
Naaz is an ambassador of meditation. She found a mother in her deity, her God. “I have found a loving mother in my divine. She is my parent and takes good care of me in every walk of life. I am so thankful to my divine mother for protecting me and giving me all the love I wanted from my parents,” she says.
“Women, you are the creator; you are the nurturer; you are the first guru of your child. Empower yourself, know your rights, say NO to domestic violence, female foeticide, dowry and ugly relationships. You all are self-sufficient, you don’t need anyone to help you. Study well, give your kids the education they deserve and be independent, and you will see that the world is yours,” she signs off.
She believes that her community has fought and come a long way, but there is a lot more to achieve. She wishes the same-sex marriages to get legal in India soon. She also urges the government to consider reservations for a transwoman in the public and private sectors.
I see Naaz not as a transwoman but as a fighter, as a struggler and as a diva who rose to become a goddess and an inspiration. Her story is all fascinating and lovely when I write it but I bet, no one except Naaz would know the pain, the uneasiness and the feeling better. Cheers to her and her clan for being a ray of hope and a saga of bravery!