Celebrating Identities

Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju shares her journey as a transgender doctor, artist and popular content creator.

By Michael Gallant

June 2023

Celebrating Identities

Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju is a doctor, artist and activist, and a social media content creator. (Photograph courtesy Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju).  

Dr. Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju is more than a highly-skilled doctor. Beyond her medical work, she is a well-known transgender artist and activist, and a powerful social media voice for LGBTQIA+ communities everywhere.

Her journey began at the age of 4, when she was bullied and mocked for not acting like a stereotypical boy, and for wanting to wear saris and high heels instead. Gummaraju endured abuse and ridicule for a large part of her growing years in school, until she joined a medical college to pursue an MBBS (Bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery) degree. She began to explore her gender identity with the help of a therapist. And with the help of social media, she discovered a whole new world that she embraced as a tool for self-expression and freedom.

The social media family

Gummaraju began her transition in 2017 and legally changed her name and gender identity the following January. After a year of hormone therapy and research, she underwent gender-affirming surgery in 2019 and officially changed her passport in 2021. Throughout the process, she documented and posted content about her transition on social media, sharing her experiences with people around the world.

Today, Gummaraju regularly shares photos and inspiring messages of hope and acceptance with hundreds of thousands of online followers. She describes her social media posts as “a loud celebration of myself and ever-evolving identity as a creator, doctor and woman of trans experience, navigating a very cis [gender] world,” she says. “In addition, I’d like for my readers and audience to see parts of themselves in my content, to learn, feel anything at all, and walk away with a tad more empathy.”

Peace amid the chaos

While many popular figures on social media are referred to as influencers, Gummaraju calls herself a creator. “Writing, drawing and vlogging have all been ways where I’ve found peace in my own skin and identity, ever since I began exploring my queerness as a teenager, at a time that social media was only just becoming commonplace,” she says. “It allowed me to process, and build solidarity with so many like me.”

While having a strong and persuasive voice on social media was never a central goal for Gummaraju, she has embraced the opportunity to connect with others online. “Creating continues to bring me peace,” she says, “all the more so when someone lets me know they’ve been touched by it one way or another.”

Beyond her social media presence, Gummaraju’s wide-ranging projects include participation in two web series shot over the last two years—both of which have strong messages of social inclusion and equity. She is also excited to relocate to Mumbai, and to focus her career less on medical work, and more on acting and content creation.

Self-care for mental health

As a doctor, activist, artist and content creator, Gummaraju says navigating such different worlds can feel overwhelming. “I try to maintain some semblance of balance by taking my mental health seriously, going to therapy as regularly as possible, and holding my people and community close,” she says. “I also paint, journal, write and religiously brew ginger tea for a pinch of sanity.”

Amid her efforts to improve the lives of queer and transgender Indians, Gummaraju hopes to see many political and societal changes in the coming years. She admires the work of transgender activist Grace Banu, for example, and supports her efforts to improve access to jobs and educational opportunities for the transgender community.

Gummaraju points out that even though progress is being made, discrimination against transgender people continues to be harsh and widespread. She also hopes that employers will make more efforts to seek queer and trans candidates for jobs.

“Should insurance policy cover transition costs, workplace anti-discrimination policies be in place, gender-neutral restrooms be installed, and queer couples receive the same benefits as their heterosexual cis counterparts,” she says, “professional opportunities for queer and trans people will flourish.”

For anyone struggling with their gender identity, Gummaraju describes being queer or questioning not as a flaw, but as a blessing, “the gift of redefining ourselves, by stepping outside of rigid niches carved out for us, by demolishing paths set in stone through our lineages,” she says. “This is power. We have such enormous potential, and truly no one and nothing can define or dictate who we are and what we’re capable of, outside of ourselves.”

Michael Gallant is a New York City-based writer, musician and entrepreneur.



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