A Nepali who will become the first transgender model to walk the runway at an Indian fashion show hopes to inspire other victims of gender identity discrimination across conservative South Asia.
Anjali Lama, who was born a man in rural Nepal, was ostracised by members of her own family after telling them twelve years ago that she wanted to live as a woman.
She overcame abuse and prejudice to become the Himalayan country’s first transgender model and is now preparing to strut the catwalk at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, India’s premier fashion show, next month.
“Growing up in Nepal as a transgender was extremely difficult,” Lama, 32, said ahead of the fashion extravaganza, which runs from February 1 to February 5.
“In South Asian countries people still aren’t that accepting, they treat it like an illness. The public looks at you differently and treats you in a different manner.”
“One has to stay strong and reach out for their dreams,” she added.
Lama was born Nabin Waiba to a family of poor farmers in remote Nuwakot in mountainous Nepal.
But she always knew that she had been born in the wrong body and in 2005 took the decision to dress as a woman for the first time.