Being an Indian, I have not only heard but seen and experienced the level of diversity in our country, those crucial elements which bind all of us together. The generous number of cultures, languages, religions, casts have knitted us together in an absolute manner. Our country has been addressed as one of the most intricate unifications of various cultural identities. Talking about the diversity, understanding towards it will never end, even after saying a lot one would feel as if he has been a little too copious in talking about India. Though it is seen how Indians have the tolerance, acceptance, understanding and respect towards the differences in cultures, religions, languages, casts, customs and in everything, but when it comes to accepting homosexual orientation as well as transgenders. It seems that there is very limited public knowledge and sympathetic about them. Nobody understands that it is natural if someone’s gender identity and appearance are incongruent with their biological sex. Society’s harsh climate towards children who are going through gender crises can be tolerated once, only when they get support by their family. Family stands by you, for you no matter what, every child expects the same from his/her family, but when it comes to transgenders, nobody tends to accept them or understand them, and nobody includes their family. Most of the families do not understand their children and henceforth do not accept them, most of them do not even listen to them when their children try to explain what they are going through. When they eyewitnessed it for the first time, that their boys start behaving in ways that are painstaking womanly or inappropriate to the expected gender part. They think that their children are in bad company. It is a phase and it will be gone gradually.
What happens gradually is hard to believe, when I came across talking to one of the transgenders named Mona introduced by Pahal Welfare Society, she crushed down and expressed, “I remember I was in fifth standard when I got humiliated for the first time from my male classmates for using girl’s washroom. I came back home, I wondered why I used girls’ washroom despite knowing the fact that I am a guy? Few days back I refused to have a haircut, I wanted my hair to grow like my elder sisters. My father was shocked and threatened when he heard for the first time about my gender crises. He thought it was a disease, later he even used to beat me, assault me for spending time with Hijra community. They have accepted me as their child, but never as how I wanted to be identified. It was difficult to deal with the society, more difficult to deal with the family as every moment I hope that they will understand. Nobody understands that it isn’t a choice to become a trans. None of us just wake up one morning and decides to become a trans. We are born like that, gender is what we naturally recognize who we are, it comes naturally to us.”
I was talking to Mona for the first time, I as an individual have never ever though of living apart from my parents, even if circumstances bring us to live apart, my parents are always with me mentally, emotionally if not physically. I got Goosebumps while talking to him, everyone like me who is privileged to lie with the parents or finds their family beside every moment has no idea what these transgenders are going through. Few of them like Mona are living with their family with no understanding and some of them have been disowned and evicted since they have decided to introduce themselves as third gender. I always have a soft corner for transgenders, I still yell at people who look down upon them, but Pahal Welfare Society has been taking initiatives to make them comfortable since very long. They love these underprivileged human beings in many forms, many times, in the life and after, and it’s never enough of them. After making all the associated transgenders accessible to vote, to have Aadhar cards, pan cards, bank accounts as well as all the social inclusion, they still felt there is a lot to be done, and hence they started a project called, “काम जो करने हैं |”
Remember whenever you are in trouble, you choose to run to your family or your friends, to tell them how you have been stuck and expects if they can not get you out of it, they will stand by you becoming your strength. Considering the same thought, Ms Sarita and Mr Pradeep the respective managers of team Astitva of Pahal Welfare Society thought its never late, its never late to get back to your family, to count on them, to connect the strings and to heal the pain. Ms Sarita decided that she would make all the thirty transgenders meet their family who are not in touch with their them. She believes, “Waking up one day and decide to change the world, this is not how work is done. Having a liberal thought to sensitise the entire community, making them understand any of social issue is bigger thought than one can think. After fulfilling all their necessities, I realised there was still emptiness somewhere inside them, and that emptiness can cannot be fulfilled by giving fundamental and social rights. It was very tough to think that way, and tougher to do so, but I was prepared as I really wanted to do something for them. I started with thirty transgenders, and one by one I made them meet all of them with their families. I already knew the difficulties. I knew a lot of people was going to be offended, but I also knew at the end there is a chance that they will lose their heart to their own babies. Imagining all these I was ready to face the music, and at the end I realised it was the best since sliced bread. Project, ‘काम जो करने हैं’ not only helped all the transgenders to connect with their families, but also helped us to know them better. According to me the problem strats with the home, if parents of transgenders understood them, they would not have disowned their children, or transgenders themselves did not decide to run away. Together is the better place to be with, and if they stayed together to face the consequences, this would not have been the condition of them. I finally could find them the home they can return to, if not regularly once in a while at least.”
So, some of the transgenders were meeting their family members after 25 years. Some of them still didn’t get accepted, some of their siblings took their phone numbers and promised to be in touch and connected. It was not 100% successful project, but a lot of family members came to understand that what are natural reasons behind a person expressing himself as opposite sex.
Being a part of Pahal Welfare Society, I get to meet many transgenders, every time I meet them, interact with them, I get to know new things about them. I remember, in my childhood day how Hijras used to come by us and ask for money, and I used to get scared and now I sit with them, talk with them, they are so normal. Once, you show them the light of hope and acceptance they trust you more. One day I went to visit one of them, I was told to take notes and write about her. She was Kangana, I sat with notebook and pen, I started listening to her and after about an hour, I realised I have not written anything. I was completely lost, lost in her words, her stories. It seemed like I lent my ears to her, but today, I don’t have to go back and remember what she said, I remember each and everything. One of the best thing I like about her is she isn’t not someone who believes that there is a reason why she behaves different, why she acts different, and the reason is her nature. She behaves and acts within her nature and there is to repent of. One of her story started like, “One day I decided that Sarita ma’am is right, I should not hide my identity from my family. Let’s go to home, tell them what I feel about myself, if they do not understand me, its okay. At least I will know that I have tried. My mom started crying when she saw me in salwar kameez. I was meeting her after three years. I always used to make excuses for not visiting my family. That day they get to know what was stopping me. Initially, they cried, they were upset but they didn’t fire at me. I am lucky to have them, my mom as well as my dad feel lucky to have me as equally to have my siblings. Today, I don’t live with them, I had to live away from them because pf my work. But, my mom gets tensed instantly when she gets to know that I am down with fever. One day I will get out of this trap and I will make my family proud.”