Transgenders speak out at the Kovai Rainbow Week

“Our love is in the dark. It is never acknowledged. We, as a community are seeking equality in love,” said Kalki Subramanian. Kalki is a transgender rights activist and founder of Sahodari, an organization that works for transgender empowerment. Kalki recently spearheaded a discussion on Love and Equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people) as part of the Kovai Rainbow Festival.

Free to love

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…' goes a verse from the Bible. But for most transgenders, love has been most unkind. “Ninety five per cent of transsexual women are below poverty line and are hence forced to beg in the streets. Some also involve in prostitution, which shows that men are attracted to us. But when it comes to marriage and commitment, we are turned down for fear of society's scorn,” she added.

Students, intellectuals and transsexual women took part in the stirring discussion. Soundarya, a young transgender, had nothing but bitter experiences to share about the man in her life. “Though he loved me and treated me well initially, he later began to abuse me. I wasted two years of my life for him. But now, I know better than to trust men like him. I've completed a course in journalism and intend to be an example for people like me,” she said.

“We too are attracted to men, just as any woman would be. We will be dedicated to a man who loves us, more than anything else in the world, for such acceptance is rare for people like us. But, every transgender learns life's most bitter lessons from a man,” said Padmini “No transgender has lived a long and happy life with her man,” echoed Madhana.

But Sundari, also a transgender learned to see the brighter side of life. Even though her ‘husband' did not marry her, he gives her what she so longed for – the protective shoulder of a man. “I am happy with him. My life has meaning to it and I'm sure he will be there for me till the end,” she said.

Will you fall in love with a transgender? “Why not?” asked a young man. “If you're true to me, I'll be true to you, irrespective of whether you're a transgender,” he said, to rapturous applause. The event also saw the launch of writer Priya Babu's latest book, Kadhal Needhi (The rule of love).

Transgender Priya has four books to her credit, all of which revolve around transgenders and their lives. She aptly summed up the collective hope of this ever-struggling section of our society. “Not all men are to be blamed. If law and the society permit it, transgender marriage will become a possibility in the future. We have faith.”