Participating In A Sexual Act Of My Choice Is My Right, My Basic Human Need: Akkai Padmashali
- IWB Post
- October 10, 2018
“Dear woman, accept your body, love it, worship it, do all this putting aside what people around you are saying. Because see, the world is always going to have a problem with you whether you are tall or short, curvy or slim, big breasts and ass or small ones, straight or a trans woman like me. Accept yourself as you are, acknowledge your desires because they are important. Don’t shy away from your partner, be bold, allow him to lick your vagina, spread your legs and don’t allow the society to dictate your sex life.”
And that, people, is Akkai Padmashali, the most positive and powerful personality I had the fortune to engage with for the second time. Growing up in a middle-class family, where she was ridiculed for behaving like a girl, Akkai experienced the discrimination that thousands like her face. So, refusing to be someone she was not, she joined the transgender community and worked as a sex worker for four years as no one was ready to give employment to a transwoman.
“I want to be addressed as a woman, I may not have a vagina, breast or uterus. But what I think defines me as a woman is the fact that I feel like one,” she told me as I sat down to talk to a woman who is bold, confident and utterly brazen when it comes to her sexuality. Excerpts:
Apart from all the discrimination you faced, has it ever happened that your sexual needs were restricted because of your sexual identity?
So many times! In many of my sexual encounters, my partner would undermine me and my sexual act. I wanted to get an orgasm too, but they would tease me as to why need it, hell even deny to accept that sex is a two-way street where both the individuals need a release. That’s the type of attitude there is, people just assume that transgender women are asexual i.e., have no sex drive or needs.
I disagree with this mentality, as we as transgender women also have a sexual identity, needs, and desires and I am the living proof of it if anyone has any doubts. I have and will reject people who refuse to let go of this mentality that we have no sexual desires, no identity.
Did this stigma ever hinder you from expressing your sexuality and exploring it?
At the age of 16, I realized I was mature enough to accept, stand by and embrace my sexual identity. The society, including my family, was either judgemental towards me or reserved some sympathy towards my ‘condition.’ Yes, they thought it was some disease I was suffering from that pushed me to work as a sex worker and beg on the streets. What they never realized that, in reality, they were the sickness, their mentality that never allowed me to have a job.
They just turned a blind eye to my dreams, my life. I also breathe like them, have sexual needs, the desire to have a partner. But people are very immature to think in this context. When I tried to openly embrace my sexual identity, people were so concerned about their centuries-old pointless principles to see that they were asking an individual to live a lie. But I had sworn that I will never compromise when it comes to my identity and my desires just because I am a transgender woman. I am NOT going to hide that yes, I too feel attracted towards someone, that I enjoy sex, that I too crave sexual satisfaction.
Exactly! But the society is not that great with handling someone boldly going against their rules. Were your ever judged or, worse, shamed for having and not hiding your sexual desires?
Yes, I was and for two reasons. First, as I mentioned earlier, me being a transgender and having sexual desires didn’t sit well with many people and second, as women are expected to take on a more submissive role in every aspect of life, including sex, the same was desired in my behavior. I was unable to make sense of this logic, why can’t women take an active role, be the one in charge of the sexual act?
Also, I am a woman with a penis, why can’t I penetrate as well when you are doing the same to me? Why are we expected to just lay there while you get your pleasure, just be a doll for them? I was restricted to ejaculate, because, again, my pleasure took a back seat.
To those men, I would say, “Sorry boss, if you have sexual desires and need to fulfill the need for pleasure, then I do too.” This hush-hush attitude around sex in the society is the reason behind this. Men think their pleasure is all that matters, and women grow learning that they are good when they suppress their need and cater to that of the man. A woman can’t freely express what she wants, she thinks of her needs as small and not worthy of being shared or fulfilled.
Was your consent ever violated?
That has happened so many times. Just because I was working as a sex worker my consent was taken for granted. If we were raped, harassed there were no questions asked, no one we could turn to for justice.
Today, Akkai, a transgender activist, is creating awareness about sexuality and sexual diversity. She envisions a society that knows not how to discriminate and is not bound by the shackles of gender.
So, tell me how the Akkai of today is in stark contrast to the one who faced all the prejudices of society?
Well, 20 years ago I spoke about the importance of sexuality and the need for everyone to have the freedom to embrace their sexual desires, which should not be governed by gender. The only difference is the change in my audience, today I talk about these issues to the Chief Ministers, chief justices of India, political leaders. I tell them about sexual diversity, fluidity and sexual attraction without any fear. Participating in a sexual act of my choice is my right, hell, it a basic human need.
And, no one, mind you, no one has the right to question this. What I demand is people respect me and my sexual identity. Some may call me an anti-social element but all I am doing is speaking up for my own rights.
As you mention that sexual pleasure is a basic human need, on that note what level of importance does exploring your own body holds?
Oh, it is the topmost priority! It is damn necessary, health wise and pleasure wise, both. Though I never used any sex toys, I used vegetables for masturbation.
So, what empowers you sexually?
My self-dignity, the freedom to be bold and brash about my sexuality, to try out new things in sex without the fear of judgment or criticism. The freedom to imagine, to explore, like what feeling does a single finger to a penis can stir, or if I imagine my partner’s toes as a penis or his thigh as a vagina and proceed accordingly. Sex is not just about a hole, or a penis or vagina, it is wandering throughout each other’s body, touching, feeling, exploring, knowing.
Sex is one of the most basic of human needs and yet, as our Indian sanskaars go, one tends to go all HAW! and awkward at the mere mention of the word sex. An individual, especially if it is a woman or an LGBTQIA person, is ridiculed, shamed, and insulted for freely embracing their sexuality, something that Nayana had to suffer in abundance, which led her to shut down her own sexual needs.
So, we at IWB decided to not let someone else’s judgment bring so much shame, guilt or stigma to us. Can’t a woman/LGBTQIA+ person want, have AND enjoy unapologetic sex and God forbid, with someone of their choice? Of course, they can! Raising a toast to the independence we deserve, IWB has come up with the campaign, UNBLUSHING.
With our partner Lovetreats.in,, India’s women-friendly sex toys shop, we embark on our mission to empower these individuals by inspiring them to reclaim their agency in desire and exploring it. No Shame in the Game is our mantra and, thus, for our campaign UNBLUSHING, we invite you to bring your love/lust stories, to find power in the spoken word and set yourself free. Share how you listened to your fearless sexually-liberating voice, how you rose above the burden of the so-called shame of bravely accepting your sexuality.
We seek your stories to inspire, empower, and liberate those hesitant to make the first move towards claiming their agency in sexual pleasure. Tell us how you dared not to fit in a box of social sexual taboos but instead chose to live as you will – fearlessly, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up inspiring others out there!
But wait, we have something more in store for you all. Lovetreats.in is offering a 10% discount to everyone who uses our campaign name ‘UNBLUSHING’ as the coupon code. Now that’s some added pleasure, right?