VIDEO: Meet Devina Keswani, The First Grader Transitioning From Male to Female
To keep up with the adventures of the Keswani family, visit PEOPLE.com/keswanis.
Devina may be the youngest Keswani – but she’s got a big personality.
In the first two episodes of PEOPLE.com’s new web series, The Keswanis: A Most Modern Family, we’ve met Big Nik, the 17-year-old Vine superstar who suffers from a rare form of dwarfism, as well as Sarina, the middle Keswani who’s making a name for herself in the world of pageants, as well as catching plenty of glimpses of the Keswani parents, Vaishali, the “momager”, and Anil, the “doctor dad”.
But it’s Devina, the youngest member of the Keswani clan, that really shook things up for the family. Born a male six years ago, her parents now say that the signs were there from the beginning.
“The day Dev could walk, the walk was feminine,” Vaishali says in the third episode of The Keswanis: A Most Modern Family. “The day Dev could talk, it was really feminine.
“We had this perfect kid,” Anil says. “But it wasn’t easy. There was something that was not clicking.”
These signals may have been increasingly hard to ignore, but it wasn’t until a sit-down with Devina’s kindergarten teacher, where she expressed her concern over an assignment Devina – then Dev – had turned in, that Vaishali and Anil realized the seriousness of the situation. After an emotional heart-to-heart, the family realized they couldn’t deny Devina’s true self any longer.
“It took me about 30 seconds to take that in,” Vaishali says. “I just wrapped my arms around her and said ‘You will never have to be Dev again, ever.'”
Her family’s support has been strong since, and she’s found other friends in the community, too. She’s had “play dates” with Lily Rubenstein, a transgender 15-year-old who understands what Devina is going through.
“Family support is the number one way to ensure that your child will have a happy and healthy transition,” Rubenstein says. “The Keswanis are setting the example here.”
“Because of their support Devina has been able to live a happy and authentic life,” she says. “There is nothing better than being able to do that.”
Even with transgender allies and her family’s acceptance, Devina’s transition hasn’t come without difficulty. In this episode, Devina tells Lily how she’s been bullied at school by a boy who “hates transgender” people.
The negative energy, however, never seems to bring to her down. She joined the Girl Scouts, has big dreams of a career in modeling, dancing or acting, and regularly beats her brother in dance battles.
Not to mention, she’s a budding activist: In this week’s episode, Devina says she’s planning to give a speech to her school about being transgender.
“That is not your normal American family,” Vaishali says. “It’s not necessarily how we envisioned our life to be, but it’s a life that’s so full and rich.”