The transgender identity has always been the “third” identity in the Indian society. We were lucky enough to come across a woman from the transgender status who carries with her a saga of ceaseless inspiration. Meet Naaz Joshi.
India is gearing up in its thoughts and you cannot miss the fact that we are changing. A change that was long anticipated in the Indian line of orthodox thoughts has finally shown its traces. And here you have enough proof. Naaz Joshi, India’s first transgender lady appeared as the cover girl in one of India’s latest fashion magazine. Combining in herself the traits of a fashion stylist and columnist, a model herself as well as well as a model manager, Naaz’s transgender identity did not limit herself from being engaged with leading Bollywood fashion icons like Neha Dhupia, Riya Sen, Ex-cabinet minister Shelja Kumari or the late model Viveka Babajee. Kudos to her talent that acted as the muse to set her foot in the glamour world!
Naaz’s profile is not limited only to her glamourous profession. It is her sheer determination and inspiring and never to bow down traits which made her stand true to her name Naaz, interpreting pride. Hailing from a middle class family based in Mexico,Naaz was born with her twin brother late Chirag Joshi.
In order to avoid the hush hush of the society, Naaz’s father had sent her off to one of her distant relative’s place considering the fact that she was born a transgender. However Naaz could continue her formal academics only till 8th standard since she lost her brother at an early age. Chirag had expired as a patient of cancer. It was then Naaz switched over to Delhi and started living with her family and taking charge of her brother’s business. A person who could establish such zeal at such a young age is indeed inspiring.
Naaz’s Journey in the Realm of Fashion
The keen appetite for fashion was there in Naaz since a very early age that provoked her to take marketing strategies and public relation session from her dearest brother. This in the long run enabled her to pursue a career in the fashion spectrum. Ask Naaz how fashion designing happened to her and she says, “I was merely 12 when I started my career by designing beautiful diyas for Diwali meals. As soon as I turned 14, because I looked older than my age, I started working backstage for the Sunder Verma, Rohit Bal, Ravi Bajaj, Payal Jain and Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla shows. I was mesmerized by Madhu Sapre’s style when she was crowned Miss India in 1992, and soon I started following fashion institutes and event companies so that I could give wings to my dreams.”
Milestones She Covered
That determination brought her to Pearl Academy in 1998 where she did her first student fashion design showwith top models like Mehar Bhasin, Dipannita Sharma and Sonalika Sahay. Thereafter, Naaz got into NIFT and even won the most creative designer of the year award for her designer lehengas and got to work closely with super models like Noyonika Chatterjee, Bhawna Sharma and Lakshmi Rana. Continuing the story, she adds, “After that, I polished my Indian wear designing skills by working with brands like Ritu Kumar, Ritu Beri, Adarsh Gill and Divya Bindra. I have also done certificate courses in fashion from the Singapore School of Fashion. In 2007, I launched my own label and started retailing from a number of big stores.”
India is still stuck in its dark shadows of orthodox values that disrespect the third gender and Naaz could not escape the pangs of the situation too. She became a poor victim of the look down glances and the secret whispers. She went through breast augmentation surgery in 2013, sex re-assignment in 2014 and eventually a breast removal surgery because of cancer in 2015. Her struggle and sheer courage to confront such hardships prove that there is nothing to consider the transgender as an exception from the society.
The Dark Upheavals She Had To Overcome
Ask Naaz how difficult it was to face society and she says, “When I decided to undergo a change, my own so-called friends left me. I also worked as a cabaret dancer at night in order to feed myself. People used to hate us during the day but the same people were ready to pay a price for our glamour at night. I landed up in prostitution so that by working as an escort, I could save funds for the surgery. My clients stopped coming to me and I went through so much emotional distress that I tried committing suicide thrice but failed.”
Our society that boasts of a hyped growth and hyperbolic progress is still the same in its shabby thoughts and Naaz’s story is a true testimony to the fact. I still remember how my family itself used to give estranged looks to the third gender woman. Even I have met people who point fingers at the third gendered identity as if they are figures beyond creation. Naaz too had to be a victim of such circumstances where she was looked at with ridiculed eyes. As she says“I was never accepted by my family. Even today, there are many restrictions on me—no male friends, no socializing, no late nights, always wear covered clothes, sometimes I feel I am living like Cinderella,” states Naaz.
Finally The Silver Lining
Thanks to the legal proceedings when the Supreme Court validated respect for the third gender. Naaz could finally quit her prostitution career and pursue her fashion designing craves. She started her own company. This time, she was a one woman army, unapologetic, strong headed and one who wanted to rise in her career. Her indomitable spirits could not just let her down.
Naaz stands as the owner of Naaz Joshi Designs and has contributed some great Indo Western fusion wear for women. Her styling hunger made her draw inspiration from Donatella Versace, who, like her, took over as the chief designer of Versace after her brother’s death. Naaz’s designing skills have made her a familiar figure in several fashion shows. Naaz now enjoys a broader social identity with high esteem and has justifiably won recognition of Miss Queen Mauritius, Wamba Diva of the Fortnight. She has also bagged to her credits quite a number of awards from several NGOs as well as magazines. As a grooming expert, she has trained more than 500 aspirants, including home makers, students, models, corporate clients and singers.
Naaz: The One Woman Army to Get Inspired From
Naaz’s work reflects it all and she has been constantly engaged towards the welfare of the community. What has been her learning in life, we ask, and she says, “My life has been a roller coaster ride full of emotions. I love it simply because unlike others who are ashamed to accept who they are publically, I came out in the open and took a stand for myself. I love teaching, training students and children—it makes me feel like a mother because biologically I can’t have kids.”
Naaz reaches out to the society with a simple request from her end for the transgender identity “I beg all of you to understand the fact that we too have a heart full of emotions. At least, listen to us, as we also value relationships. To all the parents, I just want to say that may be your children have changed their body, but their soul is the same. Don’t be ashamed of them and don’t leave them in darkness as they love you,” pleads Naaz.
Being an epitome of inspiration, Naaz has her future wishes and desires set. She shares, “Things haven’t changed and even today people laugh, make fun and mockery of our gender. It is a long journey and will definitely take about 15 years to bring some change. From my side, I will try and come up with concepts where each and every member of the society gets to live a life of a model for at least one day, possibly in a reality show like Big Boss.”
Social Connoisseurs wishes Naaz great luck and hats off to you lady for inspiring us with a tale of courage, determination and persistence. Hope we have more inspiring people like you in the long run.