There is a long past behind Mariko, who was a monk but now is treated as a celebrity by the Tibetan community.
Mariko might have climbed mountains higher than those in her homeland, in a journey that led to her being crowned the first transgender among the Tibetan community in exile.
She doesn’t want to dwell on her struggles, but insists on staying in the present, reports TOI.
“Now, my only problem is a small pimple on my chin,” says Mariko.
Mariko, who was born a male (Tenzin Ugen), says she was one among six brothers. Her parents
arrived in India in the 1990s and decided to stay in this country where thousands of Tibetans have been taking shelter.
It was not so easy for her to pass time being one among six brothers in a traditional Tibetan family.
According to her, when she was drawn to all things female,she was only told that a male is
expected to behave differently.
She was sent to a monastery to become a monk at the age of 9 years. But it also did not help her.
She embraced what came naturally to her.
“So, it is not like I woke up one fine morning and decided to become a trans person,” the report quoted Mariko as saying, adding, “There were many challenges, both financial and social.”
It was in 2014 when she took a bold decision and gave up Tenzin Ugen being a monk following a scandal when a video of her dancing in female clothes went viral in the Tibetan community.
She was afraid of the changes and initially denied it was her in the video. The moment she decided to come clean, she had to face a difficult situation.
When she was ready to take the challenge, Mariko underwent surgery.
After her surgery she found a new platform, which is far bigger than she ever imagined, to introduce herself afresh to her community.
She made her first public appearance as a dancer in 2015 at the Miss Tibet pageant in Dharamshala.
It was so successful that after it she never looked back and put behind Tenzin Ugen and all the heartache she had been through.
Now, Mariko has thousands of young Tibetan followers on the social media.
Apart from being a professional dancer, model and a make-up artist, Mariko also is a well-known motivator.
Mariko proudly says: “Our Tibetan community is small, but they treat me as a celebrity now.”
She adds: “It feels good to be known as the first Tibetan transgender. Not because it has turned
me into a celebrity, but because I have, in a small way, made it easier for other trans people to come forward.”