Colours of Courage: A Supermodel and Miss Trans Queen India- Navya Singh breaks stereotypes to inspire change
Here is a supermodel and Miss Trans Queen India- Navya Singh who breaks stereotypes to inspire change.
Navya Singh came from a very ordinary small Sikh, conservative family in Bihar, from a small village called Katihar, with a dream of becoming a star on the big screen. Despite the fact that she came from a small conservative village, she had always wished to be an eminent personality on the big screen. She had the flair for modelling, dancing, singing and acting. She says, “I was born in a boy's body. However, as I grew older, around the age of 13-14, I realised I was no longer a boy. When I used to look in the mirror, I could see parts of my body that belonged to a boy, but my soul was never of the same gender."
“I had a typical childhood until I was about 5-6 years old, but as I grew older, my desires, choices, and way of life became distinct from those of the other boys. I was a very feminine person.” Like the parents of most transgender children, Navya’s parents were also living in denial. There was a sense of shame associated with the situation. They were concerned about what others will say and whether society will accept their child. “When it came to me, my father was very aggressive, and his thinking about my identity was very narrow-minded. I was the house's great grandson, and I was expected to do a lot of things,” she added.
Although it was tough for Navya’s parents to accept her as a transgender woman, during her transition phase, Navya was lucky enough to have her parents stand by her side and accept her. She gushes, “My father cried tears of regret and joy after the doctor's consultation because he had never truly understood me in the previous 18 years. He was okay with me the way I was. I consider myself extremely fortunate because there is no family acceptance in our community, but my family at least tried. Even though the realisation came late, my parents saw the best in me and gave me a chance to live because of their faith in me and my passion."
Navya Singh came to Mumbai at the tender age of 18 with the ambition of establishing a career in the modelling. Navya began her career as an event dancer because earning money was difficult back then. In 2016, she got the opportunity to work on a Cosmopolitan and Grazia magazine advertisement in which she was featured as a model, and then in 2017, she landed up with her break in the television series ‘Savdhaan India.’
However, life wasn’t a bed of roses and she reveals, “I was repeatedly advised to enter the community and begin begging and sex work rather than pursue my passion. But I've always wondered why I should work in sex when I'm so educated. Sex work isn't all that bad. It's simply a matter of choice. However, I had the right to live my life on my own terms and with the respect I deserved."
In 2017, a Transgender pageant turned out to be the biggest turning point of Navya’s life. Navya chirps in happiness, “Miss Transqueen India was the most pivotal point in my life because it was where I discovered myself and realised, I could achieve anything, as well as where I groomed myself and discovered my identity. My life has changed since then, and I am now a TEDx speaker, have done music videos, and have recently completed a film.”
Today, Navya is an actor, activist, a motivational speaker, as well as a recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke award. Yet, despite becoming a model after many struggles, the young lady has to weather bias at the workplace. Although society has progressed, the young model has to clarify her status as a woman. Navya raises a serious question for the society, “As an actor, I wanted to work with directors and filmmakers, but I was always plagued by the question, "If there are roles for transgenders in the film industry, why aren't we given the opportunity to act for the same?" In many films, non-transgender actors play the roles of transgender people, but why don't they cast real transgender people? It's great that people are becoming more aware of LGBTQ issues, but how can you say you're providing equal opportunity if there are no LGBT people in the action?"
Misrepresentation of trans people is derogatory and dehumanising in an industry that is still grappling with the complexities of the spectrum of identities, particularly those linked to gender and sexuality. She comments in dissatisfaction, “People believe that transgender people can only work in the sex industry and beg. They believe that transgender people are incapable of working and that they do not belong in society.”
When asked if people say hurtful things consciously or unconsciously and how difficult it gets to maintain your identity, to this Navya responds, “Fighting for your own identity and separation from society, as well as fighting for your future right to a job, security, respect, and opportunities that are taken by someone who does not belong to our community, we've always been at odds with our very existence. There are a growing number of transgender people in the fashion industry. So, when I see our society and each other being lifted up, I feel so great and empowered."
Navya's parents are overjoyed and proud of her, as is the entire Katihar Sikh community from the small village in Bihar to which she belongs, which takes pride in her eminent persona and stardom.
Navya also feels that it is important to work towards ending this transphobia. Her message to all the aspiring trans models is, “I believe that one must concentrate on one's goal. We transgender people face many challenges in the industry, but we must band together to win the war against discrimination,” she signs off.