Does the govt expect us to remain celibate all our lives?
It is funny how India takes pride in saying that they have officially recognised transgender as the third gender, while we still are inhibited by the section 377 of IPC,” quips Revathi A, a writer and transgender activist. Dorai (Revathi’s childhood name), the youngest of three brothers from a small village, couldn’t find a language to express her feelings.
At Writer’s Carnival hosted at Our Sacred Space on Friday, writer and transgender activist A Revathi spoke about her autobiography ‘Unarvum Uruvamum’ (The Truth About Me), her journey from recognising herself as a transgender to running away from home and the subsequent hurdles she faced till she finally decided to devote herself to fight for transgender rights
“It is funny how India takes pride in saying that they have officially recognised transgender as the third gender, while we still are inhibited by the section 377 of IPC,” quips Revathi A, a writer and transgender activist. Dorai (Revathi’s childhood name), the youngest of three brothers from a small village, couldn’t find a language to express her feelings.
“During my schooldays, I was attracted to a boy from my class. I used to write love poems for him and later rip the pages off because I was recognised as male by everybody else and my attraction towards him was unnatural for people,” expresses Revathi. It may sound wrong to use the word ‘conformist’ for her family’s attitude; it must have been a shock for them to know that their son was turning into a woman. Dorai realised that only people of her gender would understand her and hence left home and boarded a train to Delhi. Unable to find a respectful job for herself, Revathi became a sex worker.
And now, she is out of the brothel, penning her thoughts not only for the hijras but also for you and me. Before arriving at the venue for the event, Revathi was stuck at a police station in Secunderabad. “I was curious to know why she had gone there in the first place and was disappointed to learn that members of a certain colony had sought police assistance after three hijras bought a house there, stating that they didn’t want transgenders in their colony. Shameful, isn’t it?” This is what Revathi has been fighting for.
“For transgenders, self acceptance is the first step. Once that is in place, the society can be set right. Mere recognition of the gender isn’t conducive for the becoming of an egalitarian society. We don’t want to be termed marginalised, we seek equality,” the activist asserts.
Expressing her views on the recognition of transgenders and section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Revathi says that even transgenders have lives to live. “Even we wish to have a family. We too desire certain things like any other human beings. It is pathetic that section 377 is still in place. Does the government expect us to remain celibate all our lives?” While there are people who think that recognising one as transgender is normal in metropolitans, Revathi says that isn’t the case.
“It is an open secret that there are still several ‘normal’ people who do not accept us with open arms. Be it those in the cities or those in villages. The only difference between the two is that transgenders in villages are taken to mystics, believing that they have been possessed, and in the cities they are taken to psychiatrists, considering being a transgender a psychological disorder,” Revathi says, in mock denial of such practices. Wrapping up, Revathi says that in the last few years there has been a palpable change in the peoples’ attitudes towards the third gender, but a lot more exposure and broadmindedness is required.