My Journey From a Male Model To a Female Diva

Indian actress and model, Gauri Arora

People say change is the only constant. But when you ask them to accept a change that is not a part of their worldview, change suddenly becomes taboo. Nowhere is this hypocrisy more evident in India than where transgender people are concerned.

Who am I? I am Gauri Arora. I was always Gauri Arora, even though I was born Gaurav Arora. A woman in a man’s body.

Many people ask me, “When did you first realise that something is wrong with you?” I never thought there was anything wrong with me. Different, yes. Wrong? Definitely not. I was always attracted to how women dressed, spoke and behaved, and would try to emulate that. In my mind, there was never any confusion.

Society made me feel like something wasn’t right with me. So I became what the society wanted me to be — the epitome of male beauty with bulging biceps, six pack abs, great hair and a killer smile. I was wooed by modelling agencies and courted by producers. I even made it to the cover of a male fitness magazine.

And then something happened. I landed a spot on MTV’s dating reality show MTV Splitsvilla. I was one of the many boys who had to woo women to win the show. All through the shoot, I kept my inner self in check, at a time when my inner battle was at its peak.

I don’t know why or how I did it, but I decided to announce on national television that I was not a straight male. I came out as bisexual. It wasn’t exactly the truth; but it wasn’t a lie either. I had made out with boys before…

This allowed me to open a dialogue with my parents. While my parents didn’t have an issue with me being bisexual (they didn’t care what I did in my bedroom), when I started telling them I was transgender, things got tricky.

Being the loving parents they were, they stood by me. I decided to get some help; I urge every closeted transperson to do the same. We went to a psychiatrist who helped me explain what I was feeling and who I was. My parents understood that their son, Gaurav Arora, had, for his entire life, only wanted one thing: To become on the outside what he already was on the inside — a woman.

Then I began the long and expensive process of my physical transformation. This would not have been possible if my parents were not supportive.

Today, I am a public figure who is offered acting and modeling opportunities. But what of all my sisters who aren’t given the same respect? A prominent night-club in Mumbai barred my friend on the grounds that she was a trans woman. This, when the Supreme Court of India has firmly secured fundamental rights for the third gender.

However, there is hope — be it the Vicks advertisement which humanises a transwoman as a loving mother (the epitome of womanhood); or the transwoman’s love story and story of sexual awakening on MTV’s Big F.

I may be Gaurav or Gauri, but what I want is for society to recognise me as a human being who has the right to live.

(Gauri Arora is an actor and a model living in Mumbai)



Check out more insightful pieces on