Growing Up to Be Gazal Dhaliwal, the Transwoman Writer of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

Bollywood

Growing Up to Be Gazal Dhaliwal, the Transwoman Writer of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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hen Gazal Dhaliwal was five years old, she was certain about two things: First, that she didn’t feel at home in the body that she was born in, and second, that she would grow up to be a Hindi film heroine. So when she found herself unable to alter the former, she drowned herself into preparing for the latter. As soon as her mother would step out of the house, Dhaliwal would sneak into her room and wear her dupattas, twirling and posing in them as if a camera were perpetually filming her.

Almost 30 years later, Dhaliwal has in a way, realised those two dreams of her five-year-old self. Armed with the name of the condition that made her a prisoner in her own body – gender dysphoria – Dhaliwal opted for a sex reassignment surgery in 2005, 25 years after being forced to identify with a gender she craved to escape. And although, Dhaliwal didn’t become the archetypal heroine, she did end up as the girl who gets to write heroines for a living.

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