Growing up transgender was not easy for 19 year-old Rukshana Kapali. “My school life was the most miserable life and most miserable moment. I can remember because of the hate crime I faced… I felt powerless at the time.  I felt that I was alone and I could not do anything.” Not only was she bullied by other pupils, but she was physically assaulted by the principal; “He was telling me that I was bringing bad name to school. I can still remember his fist on my face. I can still remember he kicking on me.  I can still remember the way he yelled. The whole building heard what he was yelling at me. I still remember the whole series of tortures that he started on me when I came out.” Coming out to her family was nerve wracking. She decided she would do it when her family was all gathered together for her grandfather’s birthday; “I was really scared I was really nervous and while I was putting on the clothes… I was like ‘Ok should I really step out?’ Step out, then step in. Step out and step in. I thought lets just take this.” She walked towards the gathering. “How are they gonna yell at me? Are they gonna scream at me or push me? How are they gonna react with me coming out this way? They didn’t speak a word.” After that day, she continued to present as female. Then her family confronted her. “People started to scold me, yell at me, people started talking about me, things accelerated very difficult for me. It was the moment with my parents. We had a emotional scene. I don’t think I wanna recall whatever happened there. That was very emotional part of my coming out.” Eventually, realizing Rukshana was not going to change, her family accepted her. “When my parents started accepting me as their daughter was the happiest moment in my life.” Rukshana is an LGBT and indigenous rights activist. She campaigns in particular for the rights of the Newa people. She says, “We are told that we cannot speak our language. And we are told that our heritage and culture is not valid and it’s not okay to talk about that.” Nepal's current LGBTQI+ laws are some of the most open in the world – including the legal recognition of a third gender. Tangible implementation of the various government orders has been piecemeal though, a 2014 United Nations report noted. And government officials have continued to harass LGBT groups, including by alleging that organizing around homosexuality is illegal in the country. Furthermore, while laws are progressive, discrimination is wide spread, especially within families, where marriage between a man and a woman and the bearing of children are expected of young Nepalese. Kathmandu, Nepal. 01.11.18. Photo Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Rukshana Kapali /

“The challenges I faced as a trans woman plays its role to shape that I am today. The journey I have came through 19 years of my life life has made me strong enough to stand in what I m today. Every experience I’ ve made past has shaped what I am today. Every experience I ve made in present will shape how I will be in future.

I believe that for me difficult moments are not just to feel bad but what matters how strongly I am able to stand.

It has been five years I came out as transgender woman and no tit is not easy. It isn’t busy but I believe if I don’t take up this, things will never change.”

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