It was a Thursday, sometime in January of 2014. Diana, with her hair tied neatly in a ponytail had just exited the ladies restroom while on her lunch break. She walked out confidently as a security guard stared at her from top to bottom.
This was inside George Brown College in Toronto. Diana, formerly known as Dylan Roshan was enjoying lunch before she decided to take a trip to the ladies room. Roshan intended to use the washroom before her communications class.
For most of her life, Roshan felt as though she was living in someone else’s body. Born as a male, she always identified with being a female. However on Nov. 23, 2013 everything changed when she finally came out to her friends and family and told them she was a female. The reactions were mixed, many of her friends supported her but her parents were in denial.
Roshan continues to recall and remember that event that took place over a year ago at George Brown College.
“One day I was using the women’s washroom cause I identify as a woman. Then when I came out, the security guard gave me the dirtiest look. I felt awkward when he looked at me,” recalls Roshan when she thinks back to that unpleasant day. “Everyone knows that they have the right to do their business without feeling judged. Especially in a positive space like GBC.”
Feeling angry and embarrassed, Roshan quickly felt as though her chocolate brown eyes were turning into a fiery orange. Roshan comes from a Caribbean family, and is the oldest of two.
Although, Roshan is now out to friends and family the everyday struggle to live a normal life and face the pressures of society still linger. The statistics speak for themselves, every 3 days at least one transgendered individual takes their own life.
“I don’t dress female because of my insecurities. I do wear my hair up sometimes, I put my ponytail to the side to look like Elsa from Frozen,” says Roshan with a smile as she talks about the beloved Disney movie. “I cross my legs like a female, I walk and talk like a female. I don’t care who judges me. I even sit down to urinate,” says Roshan boldly.
A humanitarian at heart, Roshan enjoys giving back to her community especially with the senior citizens of her area. As a regular volunteer at Leisureworld Caregiving Centre in Scarborough, Ontario this is one place where she feels accepted and welcomed. This love of helping the elderly has driven her to want to pursue the Activation Coordinator/Gerontology Program at George Brown’s Waterfront campus. She plans to begin the program in September of this year.
Close friend of Roshan, Kathleen Furlotte remembers when she first asked Roshan about her gender.
“I just asked straight up are you a female,” says Furlotte when she thinks back to that day. “ I was thrilled, I remember telling her I am happy for you.”
Roshan remembers feeling happy when her friend Kathleen more affectionately known to her as just Kat asked her that question. “ That is when I started to feel happy, because someone asked me about me without labeling me,” says Roshan.
Roshan also suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly referred to as SAD. Winters are often hard for her and she is constantly faced with controlling the disorder and putting on a brave face before she leaves home every morning.
“I wake up at 3 a.m. get dressed and go on the bus. But however, throughout the day I feel more triggered every time I see a male/female couple. It activates my SAD into overdrive,” says Roshan with a hint of frustration in her voice.Roshan supports the idea that more gender-neutral washrooms are needed in order for transgendered individuals to have a safe space and to avoid situations similar to that of hers at George Brown College.
Courageous and bold, she continues to live life on her own terms yet is still subjected to the judgments of society. Younger brother Justin Roshan still remains apprehensive about the transition.
“No matter what I’ll still refer to him as my brother,” says Justin Roshan.