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Beyond the closed door

The search had lasted almost two years. And it was still on. For someone as accomplished as her, it should have been simple—finding a job to teach. Every educational institution had seemed eager to hire this bright mind, the youngest professor of her time. And yet, the reality seemed to defy her anticipation. Thoughts ran through her mind like unruly children running amok in narrow alleys. As she sat outside the dean’s quaint office, she tried to reassure herself once again. New city, new culture, new people. It’s just a question of the right place, right time and a little more patience. After all, she was perfect for the job. How could she not get it?

Back home, she had taught for years, dedicatedly carving a niche for herself in the subject of her liking. Psychology of Gender wasn’t an easy choice—but it was the right one, for it had taken unsurpassed effort and courage for her to choose it. And, her diligence, insight and demeanour had slowly made her one of the most beloved teachers. Her thoughts were interrupted by the attendant asking her into the office.

After the standard interview questions, informal chit-chat followed. The dean seemed impressed. Her tension seemed to evaporate. Just then, the dreaded subject was brought up. It started with awkwardness, but quickly translated into disgust over her identity. The identity she was so proud of. The impassive man seated on the other side of the table, responsible for decisions that made and marred careers and lives, pronounced his judgement. Of course, he couldn’t hire “someone like her” and set a wrong example. “How preposterous of you to assume you stand a chance at an institution such as this! This is a place to educate young minds, not to mislead them with queer ideas,” he said with loathing in his voice.

She held back bitter tears, questioning her decision to fight for her identity. Was it, after all, a big mistake? As she restlessly clutched the string of her handbag, her gaze shifted inadvertently from the dean’s face to her favourite black stilettoes. She reminded herself of how far she had come in her journey to claim her place in a world she had painstakingly created for herself. Could she let someone, anyone render it meaningless? She stood up with her quintessential feminine grace and a big smile, thanking him for his time. Walking out that door, she knew it had shut on her for a reason.

A year later, she sat in another quaint office—this time it was her own. She counselled young men and women who, like her, struggled with ‘tough choices’ and shut doors. She smiled, finally knowing that her fight to embrace womanhood—when she was, in fact, born a man—was a purpose greater than herself. It was her raison d’etre.

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