What happens when you’re conditioned to think in a certain way but grow up identifying another way?
Mx Ria Sharma, a TedX speaker, gender fluid and homosexual identity in the Indian society is advocating to change the narrative about the LGBTQ community. Identifying as they/them, the young Indian is paving way to create a more inclusive society for all.
Sex is what you are assigned at birth with but gender is what you identify with. It may be the 21st century but the Indian society has been brain washed over the years to think that only 2 sex’s prevail, man and women. Ria Sharma, in their young 20’s has devoted their life to changing this very narrow minded mindset of society.
Ria was born a girl but as they grew up they realized they never fit in that box. Instead, there were days where they liked being in that box but on majority of the other days they liked floating around all the other boxes and wearing the hat of gender fluidity.
But nothing came easy to Ria. The internal struggles and external fights were umpteen.
Growing up in a society that labels you against your will can surely take a toll on you. Ria recalls, “I didn’t have anybody for me when I was going through my lowest point in life. I was blackmailed and I faced online abuse but the worst part was not having anybody to talk to about it.” This traumatic and toxic relationship that they had with an older women, turned abusive and broke Ria into pieces mentally with no one to turn to and that is when they realized something had to be done to change the narrative.
The very experience that broke Ria into a million pieces in turn boosted them with the courage to fight for themselves and millions like themselves. “This is the point I realized I wanted to do something big and be a bad ass person that doesn’t care of what society has to say”, recalls Ria as they went on to shatter societal norms and stereotypes to make this society a better place to live in for all.
It all started with Ria coming out of their closet that they described as the most liberating moment of their life. From friends and family to strangers on the internet, Ria didn’t only come out of their own closet but vowed to create a safe space for others to come out of their closet.
Soon enough, the world become a stage for Ria to shatter gender tags and enable people adopt a more inclusive identity. The power to change mindsets of billions of Indians stemmed from the support of their family and friends and knowing not all are privileged enough to receive it.
The major challenge Ria saw was that the law was by their side but the people of the nation weren’t. A society that constantly suppresses one’s identity to fit into a society-made mold can be daunting. The lack of awareness has led to the lock of acceptance and its about time something is done to change this narrative.
Famously said, ‘you need to take one step and society will follow’ Ria took it upon themselves to spread awareness. They went on to create a safe space for individuals suffering under society’s norms and stereotypes. The importance of being heard is very undermined and so they lent a listening ear to any and all struggles through their organization.
The young Indian aims at changing the distorted representation of the LGBTQ community in India and emphasizes on understanding the need of the marginalized community. The simplest of ways to be more woke is to include your pronouns in your bio, recommends Ria as they accent the potential the youth has to drive a positive change.
The acceptance of being who you are born to be but not what you are born with needs to be normalized and here are the affirmations Ria has for all their fellow community members struggling to do the same. “Try not to doubt yourself and don’t give up. No matter who you are you are awesome so try to be strong. You are normal and valid and through your journey you are going to inspire and change so many lives. So be yourself, love yourself and know you are absolutely beautiful.”
It’s the 21st century and it’s about time the Indian society educates and gets educated. Being more inclusive and not blind siding any kind of injustice is just the tip of the iceberg to how Ria aims to make this society a better place to live in for all. “Let’s be the change we want to see, take the first step and society will follow” says Ria as they pave way for a more inclusive society where love, respect and acceptance prevails beyond gender.