Nillam Poudel / Nepal
“I was born in a normal family. We were four sons and four daughters. I always behaved like a girl from early childhood, and my words used derogative words like Hijra, chakka, But I never lost hope, and never thought of myself as unnatural, and always thought that I will do something great.
Because of my family’s limited means, I could not continue my education.
And then I came to Kathmandu looking for work. I went to several places, But because of my sexuality, I did not get work and I was sexually abused by people, but I have not lost hope, and have been moving forward.
I, Neelam Poudel, LGBTI activist, actor as well as a transgender activist. I am a transgender woman, and a model. I worked hard and now I have established a name for myself. Even after having done so much, there are still a lot of difficulties and challenges. But I have not lost courage. I have not had to beg to make a name for myself in the make-up industry.
I have been working really hard, but being a transgender means that I have to suffer through a lot of discrimination. Some People understand about LGBTI people, many people pretend not to know and continue to use derogative terms. They hurt my spirit but they have not broken me. My sexuality has prevented me from getting work, and I have often wondered why people are so mean to me.
I have not lost hope. I have told myself, “The world has changed so much, it is wrong to get hung up on small things” In other countries, people are busy working hard and in our country people are busy gossiping about others.
I came to Kathmandu because There were no opportunities in my village. You had to work too hard and get paid too less. If I came to the city maybe I would be able to make money and support my family.
Since childhood I was with girls. I never played sports with the boys of the village. I would spend my time playing make-belief games with the girls. And I preferred to wear feminine clothes.
I did not wear boys clothes and after I grew up my father started scolding me, and I started wearing male clothes.
I did not know I was a transgender then. I did not know my sexuality. At eighth grade I started reading newspaper and learned that I was a transgender.
Even if I wanted to hide, it was impossible to hide my identity. I had very feminine qualities.
I felt that my father love me the most. He loved me, and he had sent me as a child labour so that I could get education in exchange for work. He thought that I could do something.
My father told me to not wear females clothes but he was never punished me physically, or locked me in my room. He scolded me if he saw me putting make up— that’s it.
I revealed about my sexuality at a live program at a Radio Fm. I did not go home for a few days because I was afraid of my father. But when I felt that I had to go home, everything was normal.
A few weeks after that I openly started wearing women’s clothing.
The best thing has been acceptance from family , friends and being able to accept my own identity. The worst aspect has been lack of respect from society. People still use derogative term. I don’t feel bad , I feel bad for their children
If parents are like that, what kind of education will the children get? Society people have been pressuring my landlord to kick me out. I am under a lot of pressure. I know so many of my neighbor’s kids are dating transgender people and yet they behave with me very rudely.
My neighbor’s see the media coverage that I am getting. They tell me that they are following my stories but they still talk bad things behind my back.
I woud be lying if I said I am not experiencing depression. For the last four months I have not found proper work, or the payment that was due. People ignore me when I ask for my payment and instead say bad things.
I locked myself for two-three months. I did not want my roommates to find out. I would increase the volume of my TV and cry. I would be angsty because I would not have money to send my family.
My brother means everything to me and I did not have the means to visit and support him. I did not meet anyone for three months. Neither did I leave my room. I might not have even come and talked to you guys.
Suddenly I came across my own interview in youtube . I questioned myself. And I gathered courage and started meeting people.
I have seen my friends hurt themselves because their families have not accepted them. Many have become alcoholics, while many others have committed suicide.
I love myself a lot that is why I have not hurt myself.
In the future, I want to start a place for LGBTI folks, like an old age home, for people who have been thrown away from their families or home, or those who are old and cannot work.
I wanna make a name as a make up artist. And teach others about make up, even if they are not from the LGBTI community. I hope to teach them something as well, and live happily with my family.
For marriage and love…I don have any plans. I love some one but we could not be together. Our relationship lasted for twelve years. We mutually broke up a year ago. Whatever I am today, he is the one responsible for bringing me to this position.
Lets see.. maybe there is a guy waiting for my love. If there is someone..its great. If not thats okay too. There are so many children that I can help and adopt.
I want to tell young LGBTI people: Don’t be scared. First accept yourself and then worry about family or society. If you cant accept yourself, family and society cant do anything. One you accept yourself, society becomes a background noise. If you don’t accept yourself, society and family will weigh on you. So accept yourself.
The youth of today is very impatient. Learn to be patient and don’t hide the things that is in your mind. Share your thoughts to your closest person. Don’t suppress it inside of you, it will only create a hollowness in you. The more you are hallow from the inside, the more you are going to fall. Understand each other.
Those of you who will see this…even if you don’t have LGBT people in your community, accept and support LGBT people. They are also the creatures of this earth. They are not aliens. They have feelings. In 21st century, there is bound to be somebody who is from LGBT community near your community, but they might not be open because of you.
When you accept LGBTI people who are already out, it will better your family. Accept everyone.”