Blog: 'Nobody wants to be exploited sexually'

Published: April 16, 2014 10:34 IST
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(Kalki Subramaniam is a transgender rights activist, an actor and a transsexual woman herself. She is also the founder of Sahodari Foundation, which works for social, economic and legal recognition of the transgender community)

Tuesday will be remembered forever as an important day for the transgender people of India.

Non-heterosexuality and transgenderism are not new in our society and the history of our country has recorded transgender people's presence all over.

The transgender community has been listed as a criminal tribe since a century ago during the British empire and since then has been misunderstood, ostracised, marginalised and discriminated till today.

This ignorance has driven us out of our homes and families and till today, the transgenders of India have remained as beggars seeking their rights and have been exploited sexually.

Though abandoned by our families, we are embraced by other transgender people in the hijjra community. For a transgender person, it is really hell of a life to live in a society that completely misunderstands that because of the social ignorance and prevalence throughout.

The historical Supreme Court judgment will pave the way for social recognition and family acceptance which is very important for any transgender person. At this moment, I salute my fellow activists who joined hands with me in the battle for equality.

We have been fighting for so many years now. It is a very proud moment for this handful of educated and not-so-educated people from the community who broke the barrier and continued their life with courage, and rose up to voice their rights.

If we talk about India's laws today, Article 21 in our Constitution already ensures right to privacy and personal dignity for all citizens including transgenders. Article 23 prohibits trafficking human beings and beggars, forced labour etc.

There are many such articles, especially article 14 and 15 that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, sex or place of birth.

These laws are not only for men and women. They also talk about a person, a citizen of India, and transgender people are citizens of India. These laws protect all people including transgenders, but they have been doing so only in books

Practically speaking this judgment will be an important one and it will pave the way in the future for recognition at various levels for right to education, employment, speech, housing, family, marriage and adoption of children. All this will be possible for transgender people through this historical and wonderful judgment.

For many years now, transgender activists from across the country have been sensitising the judiciary of India and also advocating with the policy makers of the country for recognising our rights and also for including us in all welfare measures. It is our right to live a dignified life.

No one wants to be a beggar. No one wants to be exploited sexually. We want to live like any other human being in this country. We deserve a family. We also deserve happiness. We also have the social obligation and thirst to contribute to the country's welfare - for the civil society.

And abandoning or ostracising us will make us live a nightmarish life. This judgment has shown us hope for our future and for generations coming up. At least the next generation of transgender people will not be begging or doing sex work because this legal decision has paved the way for us.

Transgender teenagers can now continue their studies...dropouts will reduce enormously.

Most transgenders today are begging and doing sex work because they are school dropouts. They are not qualified to get a good job.

This judgment will ensure that they get good education which will result in a well-qualified job. Even if a family abandons them, they can choose to live an economically independent life.

I personally welcome this judgment because I wanted to have a family. I wanted to marry and though I can't bear children, I wanted to adopt and marry the person I love. This judgment shows me hope that it is possible to have that life. 

Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this blog are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the blog  do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


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