#RiseFromWithin: Beyond Pink and Blue | Tech Mahindra

In a 2015 Frontline article under the growing up trans series, Sarah Childress talks about the programming that humans undergo from the cradle and how they behave according to the rules assigned to their biological sex. "Boys are supposed to like trucks, act tough, and excel at math. Girls are supposed to like princesses, wear dresses, and be nice. Everything that a kid sees, everything in consumer culture, almost without exception, reinforces stereotypical understandings of what it looks like and feels like to be male or female", she mentions. With a small but growing number of people coming out as transgender, the notion that gender is linked to biological sex is being challenged.



Meet Subhrakanti, for example. He was the first of three daughters born in the Nayak family of Rourkela in Odisha.

He, daughter, yes.

From a tender age, he identified himself more as a boy than a girl. He was inclined towards things that one would typically associate with boys: choices in clothes and toys, preferences in games and activities, and general interests and social behavior. His early years were challenging; people forced him to act in a 'girl-like' way, and he hated it. On his first day at school, Subhrakanti felt discomfort concerning his gender identity for the first time. He wanted to dress like boys and sit with them. The differences and discomfort continued to grow as he hit puberty and started noticing that his physical and psychological selves did not align. He spoke to his family and friends, who initially thought he was just a "tomboy" but later realized there was more to it.

"I used to read voraciously about gender concerning my unique self. While I read, I also discussed it with people around me, slowly educating both myself and them about sex, gender, and sexuality (yes, they're different). My family and friends graduated through the phases of shock, disbelief, awareness, acceptance, interest, support, and finally pride in who I was (or perhaps going to be)", he says. Subhrakanti feels that a positive response to his feelings from his innermost circle helped him cement the decision to undergo a sex reassignment procedure at an early age.

"Their support was out of this world," says Subhrakanti, speaking about his parents. This was around when he finished college and landed a job with Tech Mahindra. He was lucky to have a team that understood, respected, and supported his decisions. As Subhrakanti settled down in the job, he strengthened his resolve to go under the knife.

"Honestly, I was scared, too. I feared the needles, knives, injections, hormones, and post-surgery procedures, but they want to free my soul and live with the gender I identify more with was above any pain", he mentions. The surgery was successful, and he recovered quickly, finally becoming what he always wanted to be.

Subhrakanti describes his journey as a spiritual one. "A lot of it came from reading, research, communication, and being sure of what I always wanted. I was very lucky to have supportive family, friends, and colleagues", he adds. His mentors at TechM find him to be a highly efficient team member with great feedback from peers, seniors, and customers. He's as courageous, honest, and likable in his professional dealings as he was when he let us share his story with the world.

We also got a chance to put Subhrakanti through a quick 10-question-rapid-fire interview, and his answers inspire us:

  • Dreams: To be financially independent at an early age so that I don't have to wait till retirement to enjoy the good life with family and friends
  • Likes: Spending time with myself and people in need. It helps me meditate and stay positive.
  • Dislikes: Negativity and animals being killed for taste/superstition.
  • Fears: Ending up hurting myself or someone else. I tend to bottle my feelings up when I go through any emotional trauma; I regret it later.
  • Inspiration: Family, friends and Emma Watson
  • Moments and memories: Many. Every moment I spend with my loved ones today becomes a memory for tomorrow.
  • Life goals: Becoming someone my family, friends, and colleagues are proud of. An honest, talented, hardworking, inspiring, and smart man who lives life with a great deal of dignity and is very down to earth…Someone like my father."
  • Love and relationships: Of course, I'd want to love and be loved and maybe even get married one day
  • Ideal life partner: Emma Watson for the beauty with brains that she is and for her personality (the way she advocates for human rights and social justice).
  • Message for the world: "The world is made up of all kinds of people, and that's what makes it beautiful. I'll live the way I am and will respect the way others are, too. We've got one life which we should be lived to the fullest … while being grateful for every small act of kindness anyone has done for us.

We discovered Subhrakanti's story through an email conversation with Sayantan Jana, his mentor at TechM. We were inspired by his sheer courage, and we published it under The Storybook Project with his generous input and permission.