The emotional realities of cross-dressing in India

Cross-dressers often face discrimination in real life, despite media portrayals. There's a misconception that they are always transgender, but clothing doesn't define gender identity

Screengrab from a DW video about cross-dressers in India
Screengrab from a DW video about cross-dressers in India


Hiten Noonwal, who started cross-dressing when they were a teenager, discovered acceptance and safe spaces within India's LGBTQ community, primarily in major urban hubs like New Delhi and Mumbai. These spaces have allowed them to authentically express their gender-fluid identity. Today, Noonwal is a performer in clubs and events.

"Whatever I am doing has nothing to do with who I am for society. It has everything to do with me because I feel happy doing it. Because if I didn’t do it, I would probably fall mentally sick," they say while sharing their journey with DW, discussing the obstacles they encountered while expressing their identity.

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