Laxmi Narayan Tripathi Quotes
A hijra is someone who has transitioned from male to female, but we don’t consider ourselves female because culturally we belong to a completely different section of society. Many hijras are castrated, but it’s not compulsory. They say it’s the soul which is hijra. We feel we are neither man nor woman, but we enjoy femininity. I enjoy womanhood, but I am not a woman. It’s very confusing.
The people who want to be segregated are part of a different generation, and they have lived their lives. They are the stakeholders and guardians of the culture. Historically, the British tried to erase them from their land, but they survived. They survived the non-acceptance of the government, so they have always been very secretive. They have created a barrier, which they don’t want to lose.
I was first sexually exploited when I was seven, by a distant cousin at a family wedding. Even after that I was routinely molested by older cousins and their friends. See, my innocence was taken away and I became mature at one bloody incident. I believe I never had a childhood. I grew up as an elderly person. And that’s what my femininity brought upon me. Of course, in a patriarchal society, hijras’ bodies are thought of as toys.
According to the norms of the hijras community, it’s not necessary that one be castrated. Castration is your choice. If you do it, testosterone doesn’t build up, femininity comes, but I have always said that castration is not the right way. A person should go for complete sexual reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, psychological counseling.
I try to educate people. I’ve told the hijra community that it’s not about getting breasts or having sexual reassignment surgery. First we need our rights. We need our dignity. We need inclusion in every bloody policy for the marginalized. We need education. We need dignified shelter. There are many like me who are able to earn without begging. But the fact is that before even coming into the social sector, I was running a dance class, and before that I was a model coordinator. I didn’t want to beg, or do sex work, or sell myself.
I was a sick child, I was scared, and honestly speaking, I never thought about why I didn’t tell anyone about my abuse. Abuse victims don’t have all the answers, and I never thought it was abuse. My generation was totally different. Now a small child knows many things, much more than what we knew. When I understood it was not right, it was much later.
I was recently chief guest at a function, and one of the boys who had exploited me in the childhood was there. He could not even look at me, but I was kind to him. I have not forgiven, but I believe that what you do to me is your karma and what I do to you is my karma. What is gone is gone. I have lived it, I have overpowered it. I don’t carry any baggage with me. It’s done, it’s finished, it’s over. You can’t change the past, but you can make the future much more beautiful.
When I started meeting members of the hijra community, it was a whole different ballgame. They were like me. This was the first time I felt that I was with other people who were the same as me. It was not about cruising a man, it was not about sleeping with somebody – it was beyond that. It was so much a community, wanting the best for each other, loving each other, caring for each other.
I advocate for people who believe sex work is work. But women have so many avenues open. In the same way, a trans woman or a hijra should have that many doors open. If later on she chooses sex work, that’s fine. But she shouldn’t have to choose sex work because all the other doors are closed. Every hijra or trans person is not a sex worker. We need our own respect. And whoever chooses sex work after having all doors open, I really respect that.