By Priyadarshani Shrestha
Photos by: Bibek Puri
Some people have to tolerate discrimination, hate and pain though they do not deserve it. Angel Lama from Kavrepalanchowk district is one among million others for whom the share of hate and discrimination came not only from the society but also from her own family, all because she was different than others.
When Angel was in school, she used to get catcalled as hijada or chakka every day, and she was bullied for being girlish to such a point that she had to hide her face almost all the times. But going back home from school wasn’t also relaxing for her as she would usually get scolded from his father because of her sexual characteristics. This was why she had revealed her real identity only with her close friends when she was 16 years old.
Getting close with WAVE, she narrated, “One day, my father barged into my room and held me responsible for tarnishing his image in the society. He said that he was tired of hearing rumours about me and my actions were humiliating him.”
It’s not that Angel hadn’t tried making his father understand her sexuality. She tried her best to explain that she had no control over her sexuality and it wasn’t her choice to born as a boy. Despite all such attempts, she never succeeded. She says, “It’s easy to feed a hungry person but is most difficult to feed someone who doesn’t want to eat. My father never wanted to listen to my justifications. He basically disowned me saying that he doesn’t want to be recognised as my father. When I was 17, he even got divorced with my mother.”
While Angel was expecting love and equality from everyone, she was also fighting in transforming her sexual characteristics on the other side of her story. Angel had joined Blue Diamond Society (BDS) and was understanding more about herself. Besides, with the institutional support from BDS, Angel was taking different kinds of hormonal medications imported from Thailand for transgender hormone therapy, a therapy that helps transgender in changing their secondary sexual characteristics.
“In Nepal, most transgenders are not being able to take hormonal medicines for aligning their secondary sexual characteristics with their gender identity; thus, many of them are taking contraceptive pills. This practice is affecting their health.”—Angel Lama
“Besides trying to align my secondary sexual characteristics with my gender identity, I was also wishing to get enrolled in sex reassignment therapy, but this therapy is not legal in Nepal and is very expensive to afford in other countries,” says Angel and adds, “Nevertheless, I was feeling true to myself ever since I had joined BDS. I had started feeling that I was flying in the sky and I could do whatever I like.
With such a rediscovery of herself, Angel was now finding herself being ‘empowered’ and ‘courageous’. So, she kept on braving all the challenges that were coming before her: participating in Miss Pink 2018 was one among those challenges. So, she dropped an application, and she was selected.
Angel narrated how her mother, in a painful tone, said that her happiness was in her (Angel) happiness. She also shared how her mother feared for what the society would think of her and the family. Angel also shared how her mother had requested her to come back to her home but with a condition: a promise to not to wear women’s clothes while at home. Angel then recounted how their conversation had ended with tears spilling from their eyes.
Participating in the pageant and inviting her mother at the event were her moves in braving to open what she had always been because it was the time for Angel to clarify unfolded emotions with her mom and the society. So after the event, Angel thought having a candid conversation with her mother was very important, and they had a short chitchat on a frank and emotional tone.
Angel recollects, “I asked her who she would choose between her own child and society. Asking this, I clarified that if she would choose the society, I would wish her a happy life and let her live with the people of the society. I again clarified that she would lose her only child in that wake.”
For Angel, opening up before her mother was another important agenda because her mother had only known she was different and hadn’t seen her like a lady. So, Angel invited her mom at the finale of Miss Pink 2018 that had taken place at Rastriya Nach Ghar, Kathmandu on May 17. But though Angel secured the title of the pageant, her mother was sad because it was for the first time she was seeing Angel wearing female’s clothes.
Today, Angel is a different person. She is hooked in a loving relationship with a person with bisexual characteristics and she is very happy with him. She blushingly says, “He is very supportive to me. He never scrunches his nose in disgust. He has fallen in love with my soul, not my body.”
At her academic front, she is enrolled in 12th standard at K & K College under scholarship quota, and she is studying Rural Development. Angel wants to further her studies in law and become an advocate to advocate for not only the LGBTI community but also for all the people who cannot stand for their rights.
Angel says, “The newly promulgated Constitution of Nepal 2015 still does not guarantee same-sex marriage; so, there are many such issues for advocacy. However, I will not fight alone, and I can’t be the only one to bring positive change in society. But, I will always be an advocate and stand with other supporters, and together, we will make it happen.”
Angel, who now has become a role model especially after winning the pageant, wishes to become a person of inspiration for many. She wants people going through different difficulties to look at her and say, “Angel has survived through all her challenges. If she can do this, why can’t I?” And she wishes people to like her for the person she is and not for her sexuality. To make her wish come true, Angel is not letting her opportunity slip off her grasp.