Life as a transgender person of color: 'I erased a part of me'

Editor's note: The UN estimates that around 17 million people born in India live outside its borders. The group is considered the world's largest migrant population. From the NBA's first Indian-origin player to the descendant of an indentured laborer, CNN spoke to a handful of people born to Indian parents who settled overseas.

     Alok Vaid-Menon attends an event at the Paramount Screening Room  on October 16, 2014 in New York.
    Alok Vaid-Menon is accustomed to standing out.
    The 27-year-old transgender performance artist, who prefers to be referred to by the pronoun "they," has had their identity challenged all their lives.
    "People are okay with gender non-conforming people as long as we are entertaining them. The problem comes when we assert ourselves beyond our entertainment value, as full human beings."

    'Home was a complicated space'

    Vaid-Menon's mother grew up in India's northern state of Punjab before moving to New York in the late 1960s when her father got a job at a college in the United States.
    Born in Malaysia, Vaid-Menon's father moved to the Indian capital New Delhi in the 1970s before leaving for the US to further his education.
    Both parents relocated to Texas in 1986 where there were very few Indians, Vaid-Menon says, but they bonded with other Indians whom they met in the first few years.
    Alok Vaid-Menon as a child with their older sister, Alka, in Texas, US.
    Vaid-Menon says the family accepted their child's uniqueness. "My parents practiced a hands-off approach and led by example. I saw them reading books, keeping up with the news (and) having deep conversations with their friends, so I did it too," Vaid-Menon tells CNN via email.