Want to normalise openness, and encourage more people to speak their truth: Designer and Transwoman Saisha Shinde


2021 has just begun and it seems to be a monumental year for fashion already. On January 5, famous fashion designer formerly known as Swapnil Shinde announced herself as a transwoman and changed her name to Saisha Shinde which translates to ‘a meaningful life.’

Sharing her transformation pictures on social media along with a long, emotional note, she narrated her journey of trauma and triumph that has led her to this moment. “I spent the next few years believing that I was attracted to men because I was gay, but it was only 6 years ago that I finally accepted to myself, and today that I accept to you. I'm not a gay man. I am a Transwoman,” Saisha concluded.

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Opening up to Vogue, Saisha mentioned that after battling for six years with her sexual identity she found truth to be liberating. “All those years of people calling me ‘sir’… I could not bear it any longer. My team now calls me ma’am with utmost pride. “You read all about freedom and liberation. But the actual experience of it, of what I’m feeling right now, is incomparable,” she said.

The designer, who has dressed a long list of B-town actresses like Sunny Leone, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kiara Advani amongst others has finally found the courage to accept the truth to herself after struggling with her gender identity for six years. “Everyone knew Swapnil Shinde as this rugged guy with a gothic sense of style. But on the inside, I was the complete opposite. Admitting this truth to myself was the hardest part. But there comes a time in your life when you just have to make these executive decisions.” She also mentioned having gone through therapy sessions with her psychiatrist that proved to be a turning point. After spending years in denial, she finally found the courage to own her truth and her journey. “The 2020 lockdown brought all our fears to the forefront. There was no escape, you just had to deal with them. This was mine. My panic attacks, anxiety and depression (which were at an all-time high) dropped when I made my decision around May last year.” There has been no looking back ever since,” she continued.

Finding her own courage in Elliot Page’s coming out as a transgender man, Saisha hopes she can encourage others as well. “We have little representation in mainstream culture. A majority of transwomen choose to keep their identities hidden because of the stigma. If they don’t, their sexual identities become a crude joke or caricature. And these are successful lawyers, doctors and now designers I’m talking about! I want to normalise openness, and encourage more people (especially from our industry) to speak their truth,” said the designer. She also mentioned that she got the most unexpected, and heartening, responses from the straight women. Most of my DMs are from them, saying this has given them the courage to embrace their lives more fearlessly too.”                       

When asked if fashion had any major role to play in her self-discovery, Saisha said, “As a medium of self-expression, most definitely. The world really underestimates fashion’s ability to make you feel powerful. We need more people who are willing to break conventions. I think Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring 2021 collection for Louis Vuitton—such a gender-fluid line from a traditional legacy brand—was commendable.”

Will there be any changes in Saisha’s own eponymous label? Well, yes! “My ideas of what clothing and comfort should be have changed tremendously. My Lakmé Fashion Week summer/resort 2020 collection was a lot more fluid and evolved because of the changes in my personal life My early collections lacked cohesiveness. My personal confusion reflected in my clothes. Now that I am finally my full self, there is a great deal of clarity,” said the designer. Saisha called her next collection, the ‘most honest’ one yet and we can’t wait!

(Source- Vogue India)