People call me a second type woman, a transgender woman, a hijra or whatever. I don't care about criticism, about being labelled and about people telling me that I am not a complete woman. To me, there exists no complete woman or a complete man. In every man, there is a woman and in every woman a man.
During my teen years as a gender nonconforming student, I have faced severe verbal abuse, bullying, harassment and physical abuse in schools. In a country where woman are worshiped as goddessesâ€”the nation itself is worshiped as Bharat Mathaâ€”I am shaken to know that India is the most dangerous place in the world to be born a girl. I, and people like me, who transitioned with so much obstacles to live in our true identities, to live as women, are continuously abused, discriminated and socially rejected for more than a century remaining marginalised, invisible and unwanted.
Born as the only biological male child of a middle class Hindu family, I was given the best education possible by my parents. I consider that as the biggest gift and the most precious asset my parents had given me. My education and the drive I had in me for more knowledge, a better life, and my pursuit for self searching, gave me the courage to endure the shame and pain which the world fiercely threw at me. The mother plays an important role in designing the entire destiny of a child. Transgender and gender non conforming children are chased away from their homes and face end up being the most under privileged and highly exploited. If every parent accept their gender nonconforming child and give them the love, protection and a good education, you will not see so many transgender women begging on the streets during the day and standing at street corners as sex workers at night.
Are women aware of their power, are women aware of their being? Do they appreciate their self worth? It took years of struggle for me to be recognised as a woman in the society. Once recognised, I now struggle for a respectable and an equal place in the society. Because I choose to be a woman, I cannot be a victim of exploitation in the name of tradition and culture, or in the masks of family and social acceptance. Because I choose to be a woman, I cannot accept the iron cuffs of patriarchy and sub-human treatment. For me, and dozens of transgender women like me, the freedom and liberty to live a life that we choose is more important than socially being accepted as women and then exploited.
For me, being a woman is a celebration of my freedom, my beauty and my femininity. Before accepting me as a woman, please first accept me as a human being who has the right and the liberty to live a life that I want to, that I choose to. A society that is ashamed of the new born baby girl will never flourish to be a healthy society. Celebrating our women symbolises celebration of equality and human rights, and acknowledgment of the uniqueness that exists in all of us.
A society that celebrates its women will celebrate womanhood in acknowledging, accepting, and being inclusive in diversity in gender and in sexuality.
Freedom to be a woman and to rejoice my identity is my right.
The author is an writer, activist and actor, and founder of Sahodari Foundation