Bangle bracelets

Unbox Me by Vikram Kushwah

Most children love the idea of ​​hiding and keeping secrets – concealing found treasures, creating secret worlds – in boxes, boxes, drawers, in the garden, in the rich soil of the earth . The joy and pleasure of hiding and seeking are universal.

“Unbox Me” refers to a child’s call to help open their treasure chest or memory box. He’s a child like you and I were – a force of nature dreaming in color. Yet this box lacks the childlike spirit of curiosity and wonder. Instead, it gives way to a different kind of hiding – hiding in the shame and fear of a form-obsessed, boxing world overtaken by everything. We tick little boxes to frame ourselves as married or single, as belonging to this or that nation, to this or that race, to the female sex or to the other, because as children we are rarely told that it is enough to be human, to receive the gift of life is enough.

“Unbox Me” is a whisper and a prayer, an invitation to walk together. It’s the revelation of the heart of a transgender child, fanning the radiant flame that once died out because most adults were afraid to raise a child who didn’t fit into a box. Lipstick, a cricket ball, glass bangles and trinkets, these have remained shamed for decades but now see the clear blue sky: to help open hearts too closed to see that these children have too treasure chests to share with the world, if only given the chance.

Each object in these boxes is a hidden treasure that a child could not share with the world because of fear, confusion or shame. These boxes have been recreated with the memories of children who grew up with their own trans identity.

Children feel upset when their gender identity differs from the sex they were given at birth, because what they experience clashes with their own reality, so much so that they can start to lock themselves away from the moment they are born. two years old.

This has a negative impact on the growth of children. LGBTQ children are more likely to drop out of school, run away from home, experience physical, mental and sexual abuse, and more likely to harm themselves. With 41% of children being transgender, the rate of suicide attempts is the highest in the world. The problem starts at home, starts with parents, and it starts early, but hardly anyone talks about trans kids.

We need a tool that holds up a mirror to parents of transgender children and to society in general. Only when we envision a new, more human world can we begin to create it.

Four interviews with transgender adults

“My name is Mina and I identify as a transgender woman. When I was a little boy, I had a box in which I kept a lot of things and memories. There was a lipstick that I I took it from my mom and wore it in secret. There was also a headband that I showed off in front of my friends to make them jealous. Oh, and nail polish in my favorite color.
This box was important to me. If you look at it, the real me was in that box. I identified myself with the things inside.
But I was afraid that my parents would hit me if they ever found him. Out of fear, I hid it under my bed.
I couldn’t be myself, so I left home when I was 14. And I left all my memories behind. My childhood was forgotten, even my mother’s scarf that I wore was forgotten. I never had the opportunity to go back there.
My message to others like me is to not hide your feelings like I did. Talk about them, explain them. One day everyone will understand you and your feelings. And unlike me, you won’t have to leave your house.
Parents must look at children as their children see themselves, otherwise they will never be able to understand them. Only when you understand their point of view will you understand what it is all about.
Thank you for revealing my box to the world, spreading our message and helping to create a world that accepts all children for who they are.

Mine

“My name is Prem. I am a trans woman from Delhi. As a young boy, my things meant everything to me and made me proud. I used to put papers and notes in a small box and to lock them up, as well as bindis (a mole worn in the middle of the forehead by Hindu women), bracelets, jewelry, hairpins…
I used to hide my box away from everyone. Out of shame and out of fear.
My mother-in-law had her problems with me. And when she found out, she made my life hell. Everyone was against me wearing makeup or playing with other girls. They wondered why I was like that.
At home, they forced me to do things. When I was seven years old, my cousin tried to harass me. At that time, I didn’t know what it was. Finally, I stayed with my aunt, she also mistreated me as if I were a servant.
After a while, I decided to fight for my rights. Enough was enough. More listening to society and my family. I had finished. It’s been 2 years since I left home.
To this day, people still insult me. Some even try to run over me with their car. When will this change? I want all children like me to live their lives freely and be able to pursue their dreams. So thank you for opening my box and letting the world see our stories.

First

“My name is Santoshi. I identify as a transgender woman. I had a secret box when I was a little boy and always kept it close to me. I didn’t show it to anyone, not even to my older brother or my mother because it was too difficult for me. It contained a lot of things that my parents thought I shouldn’t have. Jewelry, make-up, bracelets.
I felt like I would be in big trouble if my dad found my box. Everything in there belonged either to my mother or to my aunts who visited us. I used to take things out of my aunt’s purse and ask her if I could have them. She used to allow it, thinking I was just a kid.
One day I took my mother’s ring. And I was beaten badly for it. My dad asked me why I was using girls stuff.
My parents made me go to a school for boys. I was too feminine for them, and their idea was that if I was around other boys, I would start doing more masculine stuff.
It’s very difficult for children to go through this. I think as a society we have grown so much, but there is still no acceptance.
Children need to be protected whether you are a girl or a boy, whether you identify as a trans woman or a trans man, whether you are gender-conforming or not.
My parents did not mistreat or insult me. But when they compared me to my older brother, they said, look at him and what he’s doing and look at yourself, why don’t you go out and play with other boys?
My little box carries a lot of emotions. It brings me back to memories that were good because I loved everything in it, but on the other hand it was scary, because you were constantly afraid someone would find it.
Even today, many transgender people are either rejected or abused by their families. It is important to understand that these children have nowhere to go. Society does not accept them. It is really problematic and difficult for them to survive. And there are a large number of them. There are many people who are still homeless, unemployed, and they have no idea what is going to happen to their lives.
So, thank you for sharing my box with the world, to help shed some light on this important issue. It’s so important that we see our children as they see themselves.

Santoshi

“My name is Choti. I identify as a trans woman. When I was a little boy, I had a little box in which I stored all my precious things.
There were bracelets, an anklet, hairpins. As a kid, I loved wearing them.
But I could never show it, because I come from a Sikh family, which is typically male-dominated. And a boy becoming a girl was not acceptable. I used to get beat up for it so I had to keep my box and my real self hidden.
My father used to react very aggressively. Sometimes he would lock me in a room or kick me out of the house, so I spent a lot of time on the streets as a kid.
Once they tried to kill me. My father grabbed my hands and my brother hit me on the head with an iron bar. I ended up in the hospital and I still wear that mark. My mother begged me not to press charges because that would send my father and my brother to prison. When I came home from the hospital, my mom said it would happen again, so it was better if I left, and I did. I left when I was 12 and was determined to make something of myself.
All I want to say to other kids like me is to put your own future first. Make a life for yourself. Whatever you identify with, be successful because a successful person is always admired.
I would like to thank you for showing my box to the world. I hope this helps more parents understand their children, however they identify. To accept them as they are. They will only succeed if you let them live as they wish.

Choti