Transgender Couple Ziya Paval And Zahhad Fazil On Becoming Parents
Ziya Paval And Zahhad Faazil’s Newborn Sparks A Wholesome New Milestone For India’s Trans Community 

He gave birth and she became a mother

At 34, when Thomas Beatie announced that he was pregnant, it took the world by storm. This was in 2008, and it would take the Cambridge Dictionary another 14 years to course-correct and revisit the definition of ‘man’. While grammar has played catch-up in a bid to remain reflective of the evolving culture around gender, society has a few more laps to run. 


Two months after the landmark move, India would experience its own Beatie-moment, as a Kozhikode couple set the Internet ablaze with their riveting maternity shoot pictures. This is the story of trans woman Ziya Paval and her partner Zahhad Faazil, who was assigned female at birth, and who won hearts and ruffled feathers by becoming the first trans man in the county to bear a child. “When we decided to become parents, we were fully aware of what the future might hold. We were conscious of the responsibilities that comes with a baby. I am happy and grateful to the almighty that we are getting a chance like this,” shares Paval, who is a classical dancer and instructor. 

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While Kerala might not be the most cosmopolitan of Indian states, it certainly has championed LGBTQ+ causes in recent years. In 2016, a proposal was implemented in the state that allowed individuals to avail free gender affirmation surgeries in government hospitals. In fact, in Faazil and Paval’s case, Kerala’s Health Minister, Veena George personally congratulated the couple and made arrangements for their privacy and medical expenses.  


While this is good news, India sits at a distant #53 rank on the Equaldex LGBT Equality Index, clearly suggesting that we have a long way to go. “Trolls and criticism bother us as well, but to an extent,” asserts Paval. “Just like how a normal person would feel, we also go through the same feeling. I have grown a thick skin and turn a blind eye to all of this. People like this make me think that no matter what, they won’t change… so there is no point in engaging. I try to focus on all the good things. I don’t mind the negative responses because they are a part of the package.” 

All those years ago, Beatie wrote that he faced intense discrimination, and was even abandoned by his own doctors. Today, Paval and Faazil found themselves in a much better situation, but it takes more than online social acceptance to raise a child. According to a study conducted by the National Human Rights Commission in 2018, 96 per cent of India’s transgender population are denied jobs, which results in a lack of resources. Echoing this, Paval says, “Our life is not as smooth as it looks. We have our own share of financial issues and we both try hard to support ourselves. It is a great feeling to be a parent, but it is challenging too.” 

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“Ever since we announced our pregnancy, we have been getting positive responses from people, and my family members have been supporting me in this journey. We are taking one day at a time,” she adds determinedly, as she prepares for the baby’s naming ceremony in early March. 


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