When nineteen-year-old Shivy was told his grandmother was ill and that he and his mother should travel to India to be with her, he agreed wholeheartedly. Upon arrival, however, the whole trip, which was originally supposed to be two weeks long, took a dark turn.
Shivy, who grew up in the United States, is a trans man. His parents’ disapproval of his identity caused them to physically and verbally attack their child during their trip, in addition to erasing his identity. Worst of all, however, is that they arranged for Shivy to marry a man in order to “fix” him.
It all started when Shivy’s mother went through his phone and discovered his identity and girlfriend. It was only a few weeks later that his mother lied about his grandmothers health and planned the trip and arranged marriage. Fortunately, Shivy managed to escape his family prior to the wedding through the Indian LGBT advocacy group Nazariya, who found him a lawyer and a place to live while he figures out his next steps.
While arranged marriages are still fairly common in India, the ordeal that Shivy has gone through speaks to the need for the diasporic community to be more accepting of their children’s identities. His situation is heartbreaking and incredibly messy. He is a student at UC Berkley who isn’t an American citizen, and his family and all familial connections are now incredibly dangerous. While he is currently safe, this is a terrifying situation for any trans person to be in.
Of course, being transgender isn’t something that needs fixing, and trying to “fix” this identity with marriage won’t do anything except cause more despair. Forcing him into marriage is not going to do anything but harm Shivy, and this goes beyond culturally motivated choices and moves into abuse and manipulation.
Shivy has been quoted saying, “I feel so much safer with this police help that came out of this high court order, and I just hope I can successfully get my documents and be freed from my parent’s control.” Hopefully, Shivy’s situation can bring light to this issue within the diaspora and at home, and bring some understanding to families whose children are part of the queer community.
Sources: LGBTQ Nation
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.