Life with dignity is my birthright
Laxmi Narayan Tripathy has set right, the status of the sexual minorities of India. She made the world understood that there are 3 genders and not 2. Her relentless effort made the Supreme court recognize the transgenders as a third gender along with the male and female. Laxmi was born into an orthodox brahmin family but she lived with eyes of the world censoring and censuring with the kind of epithets that was hard to live with. Gradually she understood that she had a very strong feminine self. However, she was not ready to give up and in spite of all the harassments she kept moving ahead. She did what she loved to do and went on to become a Bharatanatyam dancer. She became a petitioner for the rights of transgender and won the case in supreme court in 2014. She has been part of the reality shows, participated in Big boss, she has been into films, spoken across the world innumerable platforms to be a better human being above all achievements and accomplishments.
In 2016 she became the Archarya Maha Mandaleshwar, of Kinnar Akhada. Her personality and works are an inspiration for numerous human beings including those from the cinematographic and photographic enterprises. Her Book ‘Me Hijra: Me Laxmi’ gives an insight of her life and her second book ‘Red Lipstick – Men in My Life’ talks about her uncensored encounters with the men in her life.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi adores and celebrates her womanhood so much so that she flaunts the woman in her and make sure that she devours each moment and experience of her as a woman. This embodiment of feminine energy unleashed have more to achieve for the welfare of the Indian society. Let us hear from her about her childhood and her journey as a Hijra.
- Laxmi, we are eager to know about your childhood.
I was a very normal child and had not felt any difference from others either. We were financially well off and I was sent to one of the best schools in Thane. I was very feminine as a child. Because of my femininity, I was sexually abused as a child thus became shy and befriended myself from books and arts. I loved to dance and started my own dance class when I was in the 7th standard. Later on, I discovered my own womanhood inside me.
2. What made you join the Hijra community; taking account of the strong support that you got from your family as you could have chosen not to?
I believe that I never chose to be a Hijra or to be in the Kinnar community. I felt a connect and I joined the community. I believe that I was one of them because the soul does not have any gender. I chose to be genderless and preferred to be in the third gender. It is not the question of choosing anything, I am what I am. What I am living is my journey and I am living it very beautifully.
3. You have put the Hijras back into the old glory and you have said that it is the easiest way to change the masses. Why do you think so?
The tradition of the Hijra or Kinnar is one of the oldest ethnic tradition of transgenders which has a culture and a society structure of its own, a tradition which is still alive. I am really proud to be a part of it. The ancient India once considered Hijras as “the only demigods who are visible”. Our ancestors were smart enough to give everyone their own space be it is a gay or a lesbian. In the Vedic Sanathan Dharma and in texts like Manusmrithi we are termed as demi Gods, so why can’t I reclaim my lost position. Not only in Hindu Sanathan Dharma, in Islam and Christianity also, we were mentioned and revered. But all those were pulled out as religion always remained as a power game.
4. Laxmi, because of your efforts we got the widely acclaimed verdict of 2014 and we now have a third box in the gender column. Our gratitude for this, as we too have grown more humane and became more inclusive in the process.
It was my effort to bring acceptance for the sexual minority including transgenders. As transgenders, our human existence had been totally neglected. The biggest grief in this world is the grief of feeling of being unloved. Just think of a child disowned by his family and thrown into streets; begging for food and then later selling his/her body just to curb own hunger. We don’t have support from the law and order. When it comes to room rents even, we end up paying 5 times extra for the owners to let us stay there. All these are the remnants of that colonial period, when we fell in to the morality trap which was inculcated in us by the British and proudly we were carrying over it to this generation.
5. It is always ‘feminist against the patriarchy’ makes a whole lot of sense when we join the dots including child abuse.
I was abused as a child. Even my parents did not come to know this. But then I learned to say ‘No’ and this one word gave the power that I needed. They were behind my femininity.
I knew this “manliness”, was just a show, nothing but a convenient construct, a pretense to keep patriarchy alive, to keep women tamed. They create all drama of power to keep the woman in control. I am fortunate to be able to traverse through both genders so well and that is why I understand the patriarchy inside out.
6. You know both what it is to be a male and a female and you have really transcended the genders.
My sexuality is like ‘The Ganges’ and it can take many turns. I decide what I am, a life with dignity is my birthright. For our community the best of the things is done by women. I know to love myself and I believe that I am an epitome of womanhood. I enjoy femininity even the so-called biological men technically are not complete men. But a woman is complete – she is XX and therefore complete. It is the man who is XY and hence has the woman in him. Femininity is there in biological men and only thing is that they have to decide how much ‘a man’ they are.
7. Pink money and pink washing – do you think these changes bring in more equality and upliftment to the trans community?
India has an estimated 100 million strong LGBT community that is 8% of its population. But the stigma is so strong that even the rich transgenders are forced to live in the slums. We use the best make up and dress up the best and we are spending money but we are not treated with dignity. We are a strong community and the fact that we don’t have children, the money stays with us. In spite of us having money or a strong community we cannot go and buy a house in places where financially affluent people stay, for that matter, even in a respectable place! The first and foremost requirement for any transgender is acceptance and for that India needs a non-discriminative policy and law in its place. The PM and the President should clearly state that any Indian irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender should be treated equally and any stigma or discrimination done to them will not be tolerated by the country. If this clarity is brought to the country, there will be a massive change, I believe.
8. What about the job opportunities and what about Kochi metro controversy?
There are innumerable opportunities for the third gender which are yet to be utilized like, we will be the most trusted women cab drivers if appointed. Women travelers will be safe and secured with them. But sometimes the authorities just close the eyes to their needs like what they did in the case of Kochi metro. Kochi Metro got the name when they came up with the opportunities for the transgenders. But they failed to arrange shelter for them and thus they were forced to leave the job. But now when Kochi metro became very famous, where are the transgenders?
9. You are a spiritual head and a celebrity as well; your life is as transparent as a glass, thank you for your two books. What motivated you?
The Red lipstick is about the men in my life. About my father who accepted me as I am and who announced on TV that it was none of his business to interfere in his grown-up son’s personal life and to the relative who sexually harassed me when I was a 7-year-old. Me Hijra: Me Laxmi is my biography, my childhood and my experience and my living as a transgender.
Thanks Laxmi for sharing us your insights and experiences. We wish you all the very best for all your future endeavours.