Someone asked me for my opinion on transgender people. And I’m still thinking about why it would be different than my opinion on ‘normal’ people? Cis or Trans — eventually everyone is human, and my opinion won’t change due to their sexuality.
The answer would have ended here. But, given the fact that the country I come from has a fairly ‘backward’ society, transgenders have always been excluded from society; they have never been given equal rights to healthcare, education, or other human rights.
Here is a list of a few transwomen who defied all odds, worked on their career, fought for their acceptance and now are living their lives with pride.
Srinidhi is a transwoman who launched her own designer boutique in Madurai. This superwoman has established her own business venture named after her. This textile store has clothing for both women and kids and is moderately priced. Pertaining to her gender, she was constantly denied job opportunities though she holds an MBA. This prompted her to become an entrepreneur. She further wants to expand her business and employ more transgenders into her business.
She is a Hyderabad-based transwoman, and an activist who launched, TransVision, the first YouTube channel in India maintained by transgender people. She is a double post-graduate degree holder. This idea emerged when she realized that a very little amount of information is available about the transgenders and trans-community on the television. This channel is designed with a purpose to highlight information about transgenders. It is telecasted in three languages: Telugu, Kannada, and Dakhini. This is an amazing platform to learn more about the transgender community in the country.
She is the first transwoman tattoo artist in a country who owns three tattoo studios, one beauty parlour, and a restaurant. She identified her mother’s interest in cooking and started a restaurant. Simultaneously she also opened a beauty parlour. Interested in arts and crafts she mastered animation techniques which helped her become a permanent tattoo artist. She is also a dancer and has won the title of Miss Trans Diamond Bangalore 2017. Born as a boy Nithin, she flashed herself as Nithu and came in touch with an NGO which works for transgenders. Attending a few meetings organized by this NGO, she was able to avail more information on gender studies and gender identity. She decided first to settle in life and then declare her identity to her parents. Initially, her mother misunderstood her, but later her brother supported and helped her mother to understand as well. She underwent many surgeries with her family’s support. She also participated in an international transgender beauty pageant, representing India in the Netherlands.
A transwoman from Varanasi who established a thread manufacturing power loom at her own home, Gudiya was born to a poor Muslim family and had a very unpleasant life in her childhood. She ran away from home at the age of 16 when her neighbours started bullying her. She had to resort to begging, singing at various celebrations to earn money, and returned home after three years. Her parents and relatives were shocked by the truth she revealed but accepted and rendered their full support to her. She employed four people to help her to access the raw-materials and supply the prepared products. She also adopted an abandoned girl child from a private hospital and named her Zainam and her brother’s daughter named Nargis.
Gauri is a transwoman born and raised in Pune in a conservative family. At the age of 9, she lost her mother, and after her demise, Gauri realized that she was different from others. She was born as Ganesh Suresh Sawant. As time flew, she recognized the woman in her, but her family never approved of her transition. Gauri underwent the transition with the help of Humsafar Trust. She had no support from her family, and no roof to live under. Gauri formed an NGO of her own called ‘Sakhi Char Chowghi’. Almost two decades later today, with a team of 100+ members, Gauri promotes safe sex and provides counselling to transgenders. She is also one of the petitioners of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment that was passed in 2013.
Anjali was born in Calicut, Kerala, in a conservative Muslim family as Jamsheer. When she found the woman in her, she talked about it at her home, but nobody accepted it. She loved a boy and ran away with him to Chennai only to realize that her boyfriend never loved her. She returned home, attempted suicide but was saved. She left home again, went to Coimbatore and did all kinds of jobs — from begging to working in a beauty parlour and call centre. She saved every single penny and made progress towards her surgery, laser treatment and endocrinologists consultations.
Anjali was crowned as Miss Coimbatore and Miss Splendid India in 2015. She also worked with Mammootty, the superstar of Malayalam cinema. Her work was highly appreciated. Anjali further wants to spread awareness about trans people.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
Mumbai-based transwoman Laxmi is a transgender rights activist, a Bharatanatyam dancer, and a Hindi film actress. Born as the eldest one in a family of seven, she suffered from poor health all her childhood. For being feminine, she was insulted at school and was even sexually abused by a relative.
Laxmi was fascinated by Bharatanatyam and its costumes, she took an arts degree at Mumbai’s Mithibai College and a post-graduate degree in Bharatanatyam, with her family’s support.
Laxmi co-founded Dai Welfare Society in 2002 which works for the transgender community. She also represented the Asia Pacific in the United Nations in 2008, where she spoke of the miseries of sexual minorities in society.
Breaking all the traditional concepts surrounding beauty pageants related to gender, she launched the Indian Super Queen beauty pageant in 2010, which is mushrooming very well.
Women are the real superheroes, and strong women aren’t simply born — they are made by the storm they walkthrough, irrespective of being born as a cis woman or living as a trans woman!
Sona Yadav is an intern with Untying Knots.