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Trans woman from India travels across the globe to find her authentic self

Trans woman from India travels across the globe to live an authentic life
Trans woman from India travels across the globe to live an authentic life 03:12

SAN FRANCISCO - The journey to find your authentic self brought Aishani Majumdar halfway around the world as an immigrant from India who wanted to live in a place where she could find love and celebrate her South Asian heritage while also acknowledging her queer identity. 

"I felt like I had landed in a land of freedom and so it was all up from here. That's the look I have in my eyes," Majumdar told KPIX 5 when looking back at photos of her college years in the Bay Area. "Since I knew the culture would never be proud of me, the only option left for me was to leave."

Majumdar says she was deeply hurt and in survival mode when she arrived to UC Berkeley as a student eager to not only begin college but stop hiding the person she truly was from the world. 

"I saw American college like a movie because that's all I knew it to be growing up in India," she said. 

Her parents agreed to let her go to school so far away because she got into a well-respected school and would live up to their expectations as an engineering major.  But she was still curating her image for two worlds, even sending photos back to her parents so they would not suspect anything as she began her transition. 

"Every winter I would pack my identity away into a suitcase and go back home as a good Indian son and that was so difficult," Majumdar explained. "Towards the end of college, I decided I cannot keep doing that because it's ripping me into shreds."  

She has lived in the U.S. now for almost a decade and hasn't returned to India since 2017, her last visit while she was still at student at Berkeley. Her parents would come to California to celebrate her graduation but did not accept her as their daughter. 

"There was lots of tears and lots of words and dialogue," she remembered at graduation day."I came to Berkeley to be myself and I was able to speak to the students as the truest form of myself."  

As an immigrant, she needed a legal pathway and the financial independence to become the woman she is today. A major milestone on the path, building the confidence to speak at the LGBTQ commencement ceremony when she graduated. The nonprofit Parivar Bay Area helped her to keep going, not just by embracing her as a trans woman but by showing her how to celebrate all that made her unique. 

"It was one of the first organizations where I saw the mixing of the queer identity and the South Asian identity and it was done in a way that I've never seen before and I didn't think was possible," she said.   

Last month she had a full-circle moment while walking in the Tenderloin, home of the city's Transgender District while meeting loved ones at one of her favorite places, New Delhi Restaurant. 

"It is very unassuming, it's very tiny," she said while pointing it out that evening. 

Sitting side-by-side with her younger brother visiting from India and her boyfriend, she saw how family and romance could be achieved while enjoying some of her favorite dishes from home.   

"You are worthy, you are supposed to experience these things and I'm living that every day," Majumdar said. Part of the awakening she had in the Bay Area from the group she proudly joined herself. "Parivar was the only place I could explore my South Asian identity."  

The word means "family" in Hindi and the organization has helped her and many others feel like they can embrace their culture while also feeling accepted as a member of the LGBTQ community. The organization was created to uplift trans and gender non-confirming members of the South Asian diaspora and represents all queer identities in California and beyond.  

"As I am today, I'm a business leader, a chemical engineer, a third culture child, and a woman of trans experience," Majumdar said reflecting on her time in the U.S. over several years and the life she started as a college student. "I'm at a place now where I look back with empathy and I'm grateful that she fought so hard so I could be here."   

To learn more about Parivar, visit:

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