fearing for my life in Kashmir

I’m a courageous bitch.

Trans and queer people get killed regularly in Pakistan [1]. So I was extremely nervous when I traveled to Kashmir last December (in this case I was on the Indian side of the “line of control”).

I wore a headscarf, primarily to show respect, but also to blend in. I didn’t blend in at all. Due to recent flare-ups in the ongoing insurgency, I was the only foreigner to be seen, and I had bright red hair.

The hair was a wig, and for the first time in my life I slept with it on. This was because I wanted to do everything I could to hide the fact that I used to be male, and because I shared a room with my hosts and guide. (I have a receded hairline and short hair without a wig or hairweave).

I worked extremely hard to feminize my voice while touring the region.

ISIS, or “ISJK” (Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir) propaganda was everywhere to be found. We all know what ISIS does to queer folk. I’ve appended pictures of ISJK and other groups’ propaganda to the bottom of this post.

The Indian army stationed soldiers on almost every street corner. I decided I would run to the nearest solder at the slightest sign of trouble, because I feared murder and kidnapping. Not just as a transwoman, but also as an American.

While I absolutely loved visiting Kashmir (eating with my host families; praying at Sufi shrines, mosques, and in the ruins of Buddhist temples; smoking hashish), I felt extreme relief upon returning to Delhi.

However, I have long wanted to visit Kashmir, and am thrilled to say I finally have now.

I’m a courageous bitch. And I must declare that I am more sympathetic to the Kashmiri insurgency than I am to the Indian “occupational” force, provided the insurgency remains secular if it ever succeeds.

Photos of the Resistance

Reference

  1. Need to find a source.
significant validation in Kashmir
codependent on my pre-transition self?

Post Author: Emily

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