Swetha Lakkur

Transgenders – Let us accept them

I would like to share my experience working with the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender’s) community. This is solely my observation.

“Transgender (TG) is a term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles” definition found on “Wikipeida”, that’s a good one though!

Since I was a kid, my curiosities to know how are they, “they” actually in a holistic way, biological, psychological, social etc. I was always afraid of them since the beginning, every time I travel to Hyderabad, I see TG’s freak out, it leaves me shaken just by their appearance.

Years later, I’d an opportunity to work with an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) which works with and for the LGBT community. I was in the right place to build insight to the list of questions which were unanswered for years together.

I was scared, man walk like a lady? “He” talks like a “she”, his body language, all they can talk is only about sex, joke is again an “A”, have always wondered why are they so desperate, nothing than sex in life? OKAY..!! I asked my colleague, “Who are they”, she whispered in my ears, “It’s the LGBT community”.  I was like Wooooww..

It took a while to accept them, to talk, work and also lunching with them once in a while. This was just a matter of time. Once rapport established, then there is no looking back. J

“S” is a happy girl, YES ,she is a TG. She is into police training and holds very high respect in the field of training and mentoring. She is beautiful, carries a pleasant smile, very sympathetic, emotional, helpful sensible and sensitive. She is very dedicated and determined, participates well in activities and sessions we conduct.

S was born in a village in Tamil Nadu, he was the only male in his family, lost his dad when he were a child, his mom was a daily wage laborer and he loves her unconditionally, elder sister married and lives in Chennai, she has vehicle to iron clothes near her home, otherwise a happy contended family. Since a child, S loved to select clothes for his sister, his selection was always appreciated and liked by folks around. He always looked forward to shop for his sister. Name it any, from clothes to accessories to a jewel he was the one who selects and folks wanted him, as his was the best choice. He secretly wore skirts and frocks brought for his sister, when nobody were home and used to sit in front of the mirror admiring himself hours together. He grew up, and reached adolescence and this continued, often came to Chennai claiming to meet his pals here. He still wore his sister’s half saree’s and mother’s saree’s. He walked like a girl, but was always controlled by his constant “auto suggestion” he told to self. And when he grew up becoming a man, he told his mom that he is going to find a job here and have a living and promised his mom to call her every week at least once and send her money immediately he gets his salary. His mom was so happy of his decision, son being responsible to leave his dear one’s just for making condition better back home.

He came to Chennai, found a job, and the promises were kept and done sincerely, the reason he came to the city was because he couldn’t live his identity, he was told by his friends, to go to Chennai, and will find people alike and that he will be happy, very much true! He came here, stayed with his new friends who are fighting for an identity and the society to accept them. He saw so much of him in people around and loved his new life. He went to his native village to visit his mom, and came back within a couple of days. He wanted to get back as soon as possible because he was not able to be a “she”, and was not comfortable, and had the fear if they will find out if he stayed a little longer.

Its been three years since he last visited his village. Every time he called mother requested him to visit her at least once. But he did not!

He got his Sex Reconstruction Surgery (SRS) done in a district in Andhra Pradesh. She is so happy of her identity and is so proud of herself, her dream come true experience altogether, not all SRS are successful. Few die on table.

Post SRS, she spoke to her mom like a “he”, she felt so much strain in her voice, but it were just for 3 or 4 minutes, she managed. This happened for three months, what so ever be the situation, she couldn’t wait to see her mother. She loves her sister too, post surgery, she went to see her sister standing in the corner of the street and had immense satisfaction to just see her face and that she is doing good. She did this on regular basis.

Its definitely not easy to be accepted nor to rejected by the family, it’s just a 50- 50 chance.

And the day arrived.

It was a usual Saturday for us, but for “S” its her most defining moment in her life. She has gathered courage to face it, a day she will never forget in life. Its might either be the most memorable day in her life or a day definitely not worth her memory  (In case she is been rejected).

Her mom and sis arrived to the meeting place, and “S” was in the auto waiting to be called. We spoke to her mom very much casually, establishing rapport with them. Trying to get a better perspective of S’s childhood and her adolescent years.

We did the necessary steps for confrontation, and later we did it.

There was so much shock, anger and a little while later forgiveness and acceptance something which we have been longing for. She was so happy and felt she has a family too.

Over the conversation, the hints we got and the family ignored were,

a) Always chose clothes for sister and liked things to be sissy.

b) Mom says in one of the conversation’s she had with S, she heard S talking to his friends like a girl and mom felt, is he in good company? She said she was suspicious of his company.

c) Mom claims that she saw S on a regional news channel, one of the festivals for Transgender’s, which occurs in Koovagam.

d) She felt guilty and said it was a curse, she narrated an incident, there were a group of TG’s came to her neighborhood and she made fun of them. One of them said, your son will become one amongst us, and the other said you will find out for yourself.

Acceptance is the key factor. “S” had 3 episodes of suicide and was fortunately saved by his pals. Before they live like a female, they tell themselves so many times, “I’m a male, its only when the female thing in them dominates, that’s when they say I am not a male and therefore need help. “S” tried to live like a “he” for more than a year, later felt she is not being herself and needs to tell the world.

Family acceptance is the main source of strength, but sadly they are not helped due to stigma which exists in the society and strong possibility for rejection.

Not all SRS is a success, there are many who die on table, causes might range from self medication on hormones and they do not tell the doctor, they feel embarrassed and ashamed, since SRS is done only in few districts of Bombay and AP, not all hospitals do it and are open about it. It’s done very secretly.

TG’s have very high biological needs compared to a person’s whose sexual orientation is straight, they can be very demanding, and can also strike a balance.

They are highly attention seeking and like to be accepted.

Their interest in art, music and dance is very profound.

In India, we either accept them or hate them. In AP, there is no ritual or a function commences without their blessings, they are in fact invited to the home/ venue are given due respect’s and seek their blessings. Its also believed that if one witness death of a TG, there is no rebirth for the person who witnesses it. But TG’s don’t let people to come for a funeral of their community.

There is an annual program called the “Pride walk/parade” an event for the LGBT.

It was so emotional for us to witness on the reunion of the family, and now S’s mom is relocated to Chennai and lives with her daughter J

Swetha

L.Swetha holds a  Post Graduation in Psychology and a PGD in Clinical Psychology. Her interest’s are psychology, reading books, exploring the art of writing, listening to music, travelling, theology , health and fitness, and meeting people from various walks of life.