The Quarantined Queer Experience – Part 4
By Aritra Chatterjee, in solidarity with Quarantined Queers.
I decided to make this article about myself and how I am striking a truce with the quarantine.
Being a trans person, I must admit that I do not share a very cordial relationship with my male body. To add to that, I have not explicitly claimed space in my household as a transgender person. I went bonkers when I first heard about the proposition of being housebound till the-state-knows-when. Now that I am experiencing it, I have turned into a whining crybaby with a bag of complaints.
Since time at hand is aplenty now, I am prone to looking at myself in the mirror longer than usual and I am not pleased. I have been growing my hair fondly and have had to hear my brother say, ‘shave it off, already!’ His pretext was that I may not be able to handle hair falling over my face like a woman can and therefore I needed to be saved from the burden of it. I gave him a piece of my mind and in the spiral of arguments that followed he questioned the validity of my dysphoria. Nothing can be more debilitating that! My mother keeps bickering about my queerness in inevitably indirect ways: I can understand that no matter how much I help her in her household chores, no matter how much I try to conform to her demands it shall never be enough to undo the abomination that I must be for her. My father is oppressively silent.
My hours of respite would be at night-time in the closed confines of my room, when I can cross-dress for fancy and put some lipstick on. I have learnt to value these hours as precious. In these hours of self-isolation and self-loathing, I have also contemplated suicide. Talking to a friend or my daily conversations with my partner has kind of buffered me against such crippling thoughts of inadequacy.
I miss the weekly queer gatherings at Nandan grounds, Kolkata a lot. I miss the liberty of going out of my house when things do not go right. I loathe the prospect of not having met my partner in such a long while. But we keenly hold on to the thought of seeing each other, once this ends. I have my birthday coming in a while and my queer family has been making elaborate plans for it. I do not know whether the lockdown will be called off by then, whether these plans shall see the light of day, but it is anticipation that keeps me going and probably keeps them going too.
I am telling myself that it is okay to be vulnerable and to seek support. I am checking up on community peers and friends routinely. And I am trying to not be harsh on myself. I am also trying to reflect on the times and the inequalities cutting through it. So many trans-feminine folks do not have the luxury of a proper shelter, or adequate ration and this also makes me grateful for what I have, which I may not often have reckoned with. I have it in my mind to donate to organizations that is furthering their cause.
I am not doing my best, but I am surviving, and it is alright. In the end the realization that all of us are living in uncertain and troubled times with our vulnerable ‘queerness-es’ breeds a certain kind of solidarity; it is helping me cross each passing day of this lockdown.