Little Cuz is a 9-year-old Indian boy who loves painting his nails and wearing lipstick.
Because of this, the young boy – nicknamed Little Cuz by his relatives – is often teased in his household in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, which is very alpha male-centric, according to his cousin, 22-year-old Diksha Bijlani.
When Little Cuz’s mother had a mini lipstick she was about to throw away, the boy asked for it.
“He quickly applied it, but then someone in the room said ‘Are you trying to be a chakka (transgender)’,” Bijlani told CNN. “He didn’t even understand what that meant, but the same person started teasing him, and then Little Cuz hid under the bed and pressed his lips so no one could see them, afraid that we are all mad at him for it.”
So Bijlani decided to show her support for her cousin. She, her brother Geet and another cousin all wore pink lipstick to make him feel comfortable and accepted.
Then, they asked the boy to come out from under the bed, and showed him that they were all wearing lip color, Bijlani said.
Little Cuz felt particularly empowered when he saw Geet Bijlani, who is 21, wearing it, according to his cousin.
“He peeped out and saw my brother wearing it and smiled,” Bijlani said. “He saw me clicking my brother with it and the cousins around us clapping. So he slowly slid out from under the bed and posed for us too. His comfort meter went up slowly with time, and in a while he was flaunting the lipstick to other people in the house.”
Diksha Bijlani, who has a degree in applied psychology from Delhi University, said reactions in the household were mixed. “My mom was okay with him wearing lipstick but offended at my brother wearing it,” she said. “His brother teased him, but was appalled when he saw my brother (whom he idolizes) wearing it. He stopped teasing after that.”
Later on, Little Cuz picked up his sister’s pink bicycle and his uncle ridiculed him, according to Bijlani.
But this time Little Cuz stood his ground.
“Gender is not real,” the boy said. “Today… both elder brother and I applied lipstick with our sister. Ask them if you don’t believe me!”