For Arpit Das, a component design engineer in the IP Engineering Group (IPG) at Intel India, life has changed dramatically in the past eight months. For one, he no longer shies away from mirrors. And two, he has come out as a trans man and found acceptance of his gender identity.
Arpit joined Intel as a college graduate in 2018, having received a B.Tech. in electronics & communication engineering from his hometown of Siliguri in West Bengal. He loves listening to music, watching cricket, and growing flowers. Most of all, he loves his newfound confidence and revels in being able to show his true self.
Intel India Communications interviewed Arpit about his lived experiences, challenges, and his courageous journey. Read on for his views on sex and gender, dysphoria and affirmation, and how Intel supports its employees.
Q1. When did you realize your gender identity and what was it like growing up?
I guess I was in the fifth or sixth standard when I realized that there was something wrong about my body. Puberty was a living nightmare. In fact, I thought I was sick and asked my mother to take me to a doctor.
School was like hell for me. I had the wrong name, wrong identity, wrong uniform, and wrong restroom. I got bullied for having short hair, for being masculine, for hanging around with boys. People used to tell me it’s just a phase, but the “phase” never left.
I came out to my mother when I was in the eighth or ninth standard and she was shocked. My family is very conservative, and they didn’t really understand my feelings. That was a very dysphoric time for me. I always used to wear baggy clothes and many layers to hide my chest, hide my body.
Q2. We know that biological sex or assigned sex is different from gender, which is someone’s personal awareness of self and their identity. Can you tell us about the gender dysphoria you experienced as a result of the mismatch between your assigned sex and gender identity?
I identify myself as a trans man. I was not born a girl, I was assigned female at birth. I always felt trapped in the wrong body. No amount of therapy or self-esteem could change the fact that the world labelled me as “she” while I knew all the time that I was “he” and that was completely out of sync. This dysphoria feels like being caged. It makes you want to cry, makes you want to tear up the body parts you really hate. I didn’t feel good about myself, and I wanted to not exist anymore. I wanted to be somewhere I was accepted as a man.
Q3. What are some of the other challenges you have faced as a trans man?
The worst one was the washroom. When I joined Intel, I was too afraid to use the washroom and ended up getting a urinary tract infection because of that. At the time, I couldn’t gather enough courage to use the men’s room. I would use the women’s washroom and many times, janitorial staff or security would come up to me and say, “Sir, this is not the correct washroom for you.” So, I would show them my ID, say my deadname and say I am female. I started waiting outside the washroom just to make sure no one else was around before going in.
Q4. You have chosen to go for the gender affirmation procedure.
On September 3, 2021, I took the first step towards waking up from this nightmare. I got my first testosterone shot. It was a rebirth for me – rebirth of my body, and my identity.
So, I started my transition with HRT (hormone replacement therapy). The day I got on T, I felt so confident as a man that femininity didn’t scare me anymore. Achieving my gender is a long journey and every day is a battle. I am getting my gender affirming surgeries in March 2022. HRT is a lifelong process.
Q5. How has Intel supported you through this transition and is there anything more we could be doing to create an inclusive workplace for all?
When I started transitioning, my HR partner, Amulya Kulkarni, and my manager at the time, Amol Kshirsagar, helped me a lot. They organized a wonderful session to sensitize the entire team. Without them, I would have failed to hold my shoulders up. My team is very supportive, and they address me correctly, using my correct name and pronouns.
The best part is that Intel provides insurance coverage for all the costs, from psychiatric consultations and HRT to the surgeries. Most trans people are not able to make this decision because they can’t afford the cost of the gender affirming process. Intel is a great place for transgender and non-binary people.
Can we do better? Sure, we can have more sensitization sessions and more all-gender washrooms.
Q6. How do you feel now and what does the future hold for you?
I want to thank everyone for supporting my choices, my actions. For accepting me the way I am. I love to see my face in the mirror these days. I always chose to not have a mirror in my room because of my dysphoria. Now, I examine every hint of beard as it grows. It gives me the joy of having achieved something everyone thought would be impossible. The mockery, shaming and abuses have blurred by now. I believe I still have more things to fight for. My gender identity gives me power. Every time life pins me down, I remember that I am a man of struggle, and nothing can hold me back.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.