Anjali Lama, born as Nabin Waiba in Nuwakot district in rural Nepal, is the fifth of seven siblings. Her childhood proved to be difficult for her as she struggled to understand why she felt and behaved like a girl. After her schooling, the transgender model met ‘Blue Diamond Society’, a Nepali group that advocates for sexual minorities and in 2005 she disclosed her identity to her family and friends. The 33-year-old model in a candid interview shares her tryst with modelling and challenges…
At what age you realised that you are not comfortable with what you are?
Since my childhood, I used to feel like I am a person living in someone else’s body. I enjoyed wearing women’s clothes, and at school, I mostly had female friends. The kids at school used to mock me and say ‘he’s a girl. I want to feel like a girl hence, I was ready to face the cruel words that people threw at me.
When did you decide to declare that you want to be a girl?
It was 2005, I relocated to Kathmandu, to study and later became an activist for an LGBT rights group called ‘Blue Diamond Society’. I found my identity as a transgender and that was the happiest moment of my life. I got the answer to the question ‘who I am?’ I realised that I am more comfortable being a girl.
What was your family reaction when you informed them?
After I disclosed my identity I started living with my transgender friends. I stopped going home and calling my family. My brothers weren’t ready to accept me. One day I got a call from one of my brothers and he asked me are the rumours true? I said yes, I am a transgender. He said you are no more for us! But my mother and sisters were the only ones who supported me throughout. In 2010 my mother passed away I visited my home. Now I am in touch with my sisters and a brother.
Did you undergo any surgery? How did your life change after this?
Yes, I underwent partial sex reassignment surgery in 2009. Before surgery, I used to wear padded bras, etc to look like a girl which I don’t wear now.
When did you start modelling?
My friends nudged me towards modelling because of my height. In 2007 I won ‘Miss Charming’ title in Nepal Transgender Beauty Pageant. Then in 2009, I did a photoshoot for the cover page of a magazine. The cover shoot was the threshold, but then I started my tough journey with multiple rejections. I asked my agency manager why I wasn’t getting jobs. He said it is because I am transgender. I took this as a challenge. I remembered what my mother told me about not giving up and moving forward. I knew someone, somewhere will give me an opportunity.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes! I am in a relationship like any other girl. My identity doesn’t matter it’s all about love. I want to marry him, but his parents don’t know that I am transgender.