The 16-year-old from Ujjain died by suicide on November 21.
“Even after my child has passed away, people are continuing to comment on his reel, calling him crazy and saying that it is good that he has died,” said Preeti Yadav. “But my child was not crazy. My small child was so talented that he was giving competition to big-time makeup artists. How can you judge him? He is just a kid.”
On November 21, 16-year-old Pranshu, a queer makeup artist, died by suicide in their home in Ujjain. Pranshu ran an Instagram page called @glamitupwithpranshu, with over 35,000 followers.
Nine days before, Pranshu had uploaded a video on Instagram. It featured Pranshu in a shirt before shifting to Pranshu in a saree, wearing gold jewellery and makeup. The video attracted thousands of hateful comments, bullying Pranshu for looking and acting “feminine”.
The post currently has over 50,000 comments, and the hate continued after Pranshu’s death as well. Such as “if he remained a boy, he would not have died” and “I am not sad, trans people in India have increased, they should reduce”.
But despite media and social media posts concluding that the bullying on their last post contributed to Pranshu’s death, Preeti isn’t as sure.
“Comments like these have come before as well and Pranshu was not affected by them,” she said. “I don’t know what happened that particular day. Maybe he got a call or message about it. He was so young, just 16. If he was older, he would be able to handle things differently, I am sure. The police are investigating the matter and only then we will know what happened.”
A six-member special investigation team has been constituted to probe the case. The police are looking into the 16-year-old’s phone records and social media handles as well.
‘A gift from god’
It was during Covid, when Pranshu started using social media for school, that they started watching YouTube videos and taking makeup tutorials online. Since then, they uploaded over 300 posts on Instagram, most of which are makeup looks.
Preeti, who works in Ujjain as a medical representative, described Pranshu’s talent as a “gift from god”.
“Pranshu was self-taught and learnt everything on YouTube on their own at home. I am simple and not good at all this but he was so talented and skilled,” she said, adding that she wanted to send her child abroad to pursue this skill professionally. “Even trained professionals are not this good. I supported him because god has given my child this skill, this talent, so I should support it and take it forward. My child had so much courage to be true to himself.”
Pranshu and Preeti lived alone, after Preeti separated from her husband a few years ago. She said Pranshu was a “happy child” and a devotee of Lord Krishna (their Instagram bio mentioned this too). She said she never received complaints about them being teased at school, nor did the school have any complaints about Pranshu.
In one of their posts in June for Pride month, Pranshu urged followers not to be afraid of their bullies. “Please don’t care about them,” the post said. “Whatever I am, not like I am that successful, but still, I am confident enough that I will do what I want and not care about what people say.”
Preeti said Pranshu had told her a few years ago that “his heart is of a girl” and “he likes to dress up”.
“If he feels like doing so, why can’t he? It is not wrong, he is not doing anything wrong. What crime is he committing by dressing up?” she said. “He is my child, of course I will understand and support his emotions. Kids do so many wrong activities these days but Pranshu did none of that. He was very respectful towards girls as well.”
So far, Instagram and Meta have taken no action over the hate comments that continue to populate Pranshu’s post. Preeti said, “My child is gone, but there are many other children that this must be happening to. Instagram and social media platforms need to take action. There should especially be focus on protecting youngsters below 18.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, we urge you to seek help. Please call one of the helpline numbers listed here or contact a mental health professional.
If you liked this piece, let our reporters tell you why you should subscribe to Newslaundry.