EXCLUSIVE: Transgender Laxmi Narayan Tripathi Introduces Her Husband To JWB
- IWB Post
- December 14, 2015
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is a transgender rights activist. She was in the town on December 12 for an FICCI FLO Jaipur event where she addressed the topic ‘Breaking Gender, Changing Lives’ in front of the FLO members. While interacting, she focused on some major issues like gender change & the spur towards it, one’s attitude towards gender issues and more specifically, towards transgender people.
Laxmi, who was the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008, began with saying, “There are no good or bad women. The concept of good girls going to heaven and bad ones being thrashed into the hell is beyond my mind’s eye. It is the situation that makes a human bad or good; you just can’t judge and call him/her good or evil. I don’t believe in morality. I believe in survival. These perceptions are ages-old. The mythical story of Lord Lakshama drawing a line outside the home for Goddess Sita saddens me to death. The line that she wasn’t supposed to cross while he and his brother were away. That ‘Lakshmana Rekha’ is now the ‘Dahleej’ that must be observed by every woman. It determines the character of a woman.”
She then began talking about the incidences from her life that changed her living process forever.
“I was the eldest born boy into an orthodox Brahmin family in Thane (Maharashtra). I was always feminine by nature. People questioned my choices, and that used to piss me off. Many said I was ‘abnormal’. Abnormal? I feel absolutely normal like you feel ‘normal’ in your own body and soul. How can anyone put me in a category called ‘Abnormal’? I loved wearing frocks and skirts during my childhood. Thankfully, my parents supported me but were afraid to come out in public. Societal fear, maybe. But I didn’t care about anything. I drove two-wheeler wearing frocks that would flow in the breeze and make neighbors worry. I remember aunties covering my legs, Ha-ha. I was technically a man for them, but deep inside I was aware of my original identity. That was the time I learnt to believe in myself and trust my instincts.”
“I was sexually abused as a child. In a quest to learn new things, I did jobs that included me dancing in bars, too. My parents never left my side throughout the dreadful journey. Fortunately, they still have my back. I learnt how other transgenders are mostly killed or abandoned by their parents as soon as they learn about their sexuality. Many are thrown out of their own houses by their relatives. I hold immense gratitude for my family. This, in turn, made me more considerate and embracing towards other human beings.”
“When I raised my voice to safeguard people with HIV in our country, I had no idea I was about to create history. Gradually, I rebelled to empower transgender people by asking the Indian constitution to announce us as the Third Gender. Meeting new people with similar vision encouraged me further. On the other hand, encountering the haters made me nothing but stronger. I face hatred even today, but who cares?”
“Hijras are not educated and cannot speak English is one of the common myths. When people hear me address international gatherings, they are amazed to see a hijra communicating with them in fluent English. Do you think, we cannot read and write? It may be because you think we are not ‘supposed’ to go to school, am I right? I have an arts degree from Mumbai’s Mithibai College and a postgraduate degree in Bharatnatyam. Have you heard of the first Ph.D. hijra student in India, Shabira? I am sure, most of you haven’t.
Another ‘funny’ myth is that we don’t/can not have sex. I hope I have made myself clear.”
Laxmi’s mission is to provide other transgender people a beautiful life, a life which they deserve. She stated how trans people have to sell their bodies at a cost of Rs. 20 or 50 for one night so that they can buy food for themselves. In 2007, Laxmi started the organization, called Astitiva to promote the welfare of sexual minorities. With this, she led a revolution for people like her from all over the world. Her one of the first victories was when her passport stated that she was a female.
When asked about the ultimate solution, she answered, “I only want the govt. to know that if they’re trying to replace what we earn monthly with a sewing machine, it’s not going to happen. Prostitution helps most of us to earn around Rs. 30,000/month and a sewing machine can make us only Rs. 10,000. How do you expect us to cut down our home expenses to this level? At least, try to get us to the similar level by providing facilities we are entitled to. Let us study in good schools without facing any discrimination and make strict laws for every company to employ transgender people.”
Amen to all her dreams.
Below are the excerpts:
JWB: Laxmi, your sindoor and magalsutra look fascinating. Are you married?
Laxmi: I am. Meet my husband, Vicky Thomas.
JWB: He should join us too for the chat!
Vicky: I will be more than happy.
JWB: Tell us all about your love life. How did you two meet?
Vicky: We got acquainted on Facebook.
Laxmi: He lied to me about his age. He was 23 but told me he’s 28.
Vicky: I thought she would reject my proposal thinking I am immature.
Laxmi: You still are.
JWB: How long have you been married?
Laxmi: Three years already. But I feel as if it’s been only a few days.
JWB: Aww. Who is more possessive?
Laxmi: Vicky should answer this.
Vicky (laughs): She is. She is always alert about my ‘Last seen-s’ on WhatsApp and Messanger.
Laxmi: Most women are like this. A little feeling of insecurity is a sign that you care.
Vicky: I will rather call her protective.
JWB: Laxmi, have you always believed in the institution of marriage?
Laxmi: I wanted to be loved and embraced by a man, like any other woman. At that, I sought someone whom I could love. Meeting Vicky has fulfilled all those desires. No human being can escape the feeling of love.
JWB: That’s true. You are an international personality, how do you juggle with time to make sure he doesn’t feel sidelined.
Laxmi: That’s something I am currently dealing with. Whenever I am on a tour for more than 3 days, I fly back to him in-between, mostly without notifying anybody.
JWB: Before we wrap up, tell us your views about ‘Body-shaming’. We love how you carry sarees without worrying about what people think.
Laxmi: I am a confident woman. I love sarees. I don’t care if my bulging belly is visible. I know I am beautiful and nobody else can define the shape and size of my body.
Vicky: Laxmi may wear heavy make-up during her public appearances, but deep down she is someone who loves her real skin which is without make-up. You should look at her when she isn’t wearing any. She looks beautiful and perfect to me.
JWB: You guys are adorable. All the best for the future.
Psst, meeting her has charged our true selves. Did you enjoy reading her story? Write to us!
Photo courtesy: Pallav Bhargava