My “field”, Kolkata, India inspired my “work”, i.e., my research work. Before coming to the United States in 2017 for graduate school, I was associated with several queer organizations in Kolkata (also my hometown) and developed friendships and association which was the major motivation for my dissertation “SHAKTHI: Studying Healthcare Accessibility among Kothi, Transgender, and Hijra Individuals.” The word, SHAKTHI, in Sanskrit means “power” or “empowerment”. My dissertation is by and for transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people, with a goal to empower them. It is theoretically grounded in transgender geography, health geography, and geospatial analysis. During my dissertation coursework, I identified an important gap i.e., there has been limited work in South Asia and even lesser work on understanding the diversity of gender identities rooted in historical and cultural traditions of South Asia. Influenced by Western LGBTQ movements and the growing role of NGOs in shaping naming conventions and the funding that is available through them, many gender-diverse individuals began to use “transgender”, leading to erasure of regional diverse gender identity (Dutta 2012). Even before starting my fieldwork, I felt that this trend, driven by economic needs, is harmful for the well-being and recognition of the gender-diverse communities. My positionality as a geographer also made me question geography’s role in the nuances of gender identity. It was not until my fieldwork that I found the answer to this question.

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