Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Be a child, bring back the magic :D

Kalki Subramaniam

Make life lighter. Be a child. Laugh :D, Smile :)

Like the jetlag that haunts after a long flight trip,  people from the corporate and the I.T world are haunted with long and endless boredom due to the monotonous work that they do everyday, doing the same things over and over again, living a life of dullness.

The secret to fizzle out that boredom and stress lies within you. Bring back your jazzy life.  The key to bring back that sizzling magic is to relish and relive your childhood.  Here are the first steps to go back to those days and yet be present in the moment now.

Point 1: Collect your childhood things which are left out in the old shelfs, boxes, sack bags, drawers and in the barn. Your old sketches, little scrapbooks, dairies, little presents which you thought mean of no value now and the toys. More important collect your childhood and teenage photographs
organize them and put them into an album. Clean up all your childhood items, organize and keep them in a place where only you’d access them.

Point2: Write a small note over each picture bringing back whatever you remember about the time when the picture was shot.Keep the album safe.

Point 3:  Take a new notebook: Hey hey, I amn’t talking about the machine, I mean the real paper notebook. That’s your Joy Book. We’ll call it Your name’s Joy Book. Now,  the Joy book is going to be your treasure of memories from your childhood and teenage.

Point 4:  Thr Joy Book will have only happy and sweet memories, right from your childhood to this moment when you are reading this article.

Point 5: Start writing down all the sweet memories of your life one by one. It need not be in an order or in a timeline. Jot down anything you remember in a few lines or as much description as you wish to write about that sweet memory. Your first bicycle, your first  best friend and the most beautiful memory with him/her, the day you bunked college with friends to see Rajnikant’s movie, the excitement you had when you received your first salary etc. Jot down everything whenever you remember and keep writing.

Point 6: Keep your Joy Book safe and take it out whenever you wanted to write.

Point 7: One mistake we all make is to get swept away in work and in the present life and forget the people in our past who made our life beautiful. Call up your old friends if you have their numbers, trace them on facebook and write a mail to them. Bringing back those people in your life once again makes life more jazzy and colourful.

Point 8: Have you been thankful to your mom and dad who gave you a life and who made you the person you are today? Give them a surprise gift and pamper their soul. Their blessings mean so much to you. See happiness in their face when their hearts bloom. Continue that habit of keeping your parents happy which should be on the top of your priority list.

Point 9:  Search for your favourite teacher from your school life and his whereabouts. Give him/her a surprise visit and get his blessings. Gift him with a special something and make him happy. You’d come across a rush of happiness and all old sweet memories filling your heart.

Point 10: Find out that one simple wish of yours that is long over due, your one chinna chiina aasai that doesn’t involve money. Make it happen this week, make it a reality.

Point 10: Dance!

Hey, don’t forget to jot in all the sweet memories that have garlanded your soul. Now, read your Joy       Book whenever you wanted to and relish in the joy of living. Kill that boredom with happiness through making people happy. Go get that sleezy, jazzy life and wake up that child in you to find true happiness.

Ah, it is raining outside my window while I write this, time for me to get wet along with the flowers.  Let me fulfill my chinna chinna aasai once more. Ciao..J

Kalki Subramaniam is a Transgender rights activist, artist, actor, writer and founder of Sahodari Foundation. Her website is www.kalkisubramaniam.com. You can write to her at: aurokalki@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nobody wants to be exploited sexually

 Written for

Story First Published: April 16, 2014 10:14 IST the next day of the Supreme Court of India's verdict recognizing transgender people as third gender.

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.
Three Transwomen - an art by Kalki Subramaniam

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. 

The original article can be found at NDTV blog here

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Third Gender Recognition : Tamil Transgender women in the forefront and their pioneering work

August 14th, 2010

The day before the 63rd Independence day of India. The golden day when the first seed for legal recognition of India’s third gender people was sown. The venue was Madras Judicial Academy.

It was an important day when the some of the highest Judicial Authorities gathered in the Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu state. Department of Social Welfare of the Tamilnadu government, Madras High Court, Tamilnadu State Legal Services Authority,National Legal Services Authority and the Madras Judicial Academy joined hands and organised the SEMINAR ON ISSUES RELATED TO TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY. This was the first event when the highest judiciary of India could hear the transgender community’s dilemma in person, face to face, heart to heart. This was the event that tore open for the truths to bare all, the event that sensitized the some of the country’s greatest change makers.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of the Madras Highcourt M.Y.Iqbal, Supreme court Judge Shri Sadasivam, Minister of Social Welfare Geetha Jeevan, Director of the Department of Social Welfare Mrs. Nirmala and the state one of the highest Police official Archana Ramachandran were the prominent participating guests in the event.

Once the protocol speeches were over, it was time for us, the transgender community to speak. I, as a representative of the community, I had been waiting for this great opportunity to present the problems faced by the transgender people.  I was on the dias sitting opposite the Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Altamas Kabir giving him an emotional speech supported by a powerpoint presentation on the problems faced by the transgender people of India. I started from childhood, teenage and went to speak to the Judge about what dilemma and terror we faced in schools as transgender kids, the bullying, the harassment, the lack of understanding and counseling support, the life in fear and depression at such an young age.  I spoke to the Judges in detail about the discriminations faced by us in the public, the lack of education that has ultimately resulted the community to resort to begging and sex work. Abandoned by family and becoming beggars and sex workers, all our dreams crashed, we become unwanted people in the society.

Activist Priyababu spoke in detail about the possible solutions for the problems faced by the community, senior activist Noori and community voices Noorjahan and Selvi also spoke about the problems transgender women face in the society.

This was the first event in the Indian history when the transgender community could directly speak in detail about our problems to the country’s Supreme court Judges who were the members of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

After this event, on 4th February 2011 National Legal Services Authority with technical support from United Nations Development Program organized a National Seminar at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The Seminar was titled ‘Transgender and the Law’. This was the first National seminar that discussed the legal rights and recognizing the third gender people of India.

Transgender and the Law, New Delhi
The man who was responsible for initiating this seminar was the then Supreme court Judge and the head of NALSA, Shri. Altamas Kabir sir. This seminar was the follow up of the first seminar held in Chennai.

Hundreds of Judges from all over India, including some of the prominent supreme court, high court and district court Judges were present in the event. The highest ranking Police officers from all over the country were also present in the event. It was a historical day in the transgender rights movement. Along with Honourable Justice Altamas Kabir sir who was also the Executive Chairman of NALSA, were other eminent Judges like the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court M.Y.Iqbal, New Delhi High Court Chief Justice Deepak Mishra and Justice Vikramajit Sen. UNDP Country Director Caitley Weisen was present at the event as well.

As activists and transgender community representatives, I and Priyababu were the two people from the South of India who were there to do presentations and deliver speeches to sensitize the officials. From the North were Gauri Sawant, Laxmi Narayan Tripati and Sabeena Francis.

The highlight of this seminar was the speeches and presentations by the transgender activists which aimed to sensitize the Judiciary on the problems of the transgender people of India whose life can only see ray of hope and an equal life like any other citizen of the country. After the protocol speeches by the chief guests and the hosts of the event, the Judges and Police officerrs were requested to be seated in two different halls. It was time for us to speak. I and Priyababu were in one hall and Lakshmi Natrayan Tripati, Gauri Sawant and Sabeena was in the other speaking, answering and interacting with the Judges on the transgender people’s life in India. I was sitting next to Cheif Justice sir, a very noble and kind person. He was listening to me very carefully and during his speech I could see how much of a deep understanding he has on the transgender issue.

Lawyer Laya Medhini from Article 39, Dr. Venkatesh Chakrapani, Akila Das from CFAR, Ernest Noronha from UNDP and Sonal Mehta were some of the people who were present there. Ernest Noronha’s amazing background work on the transgender rights issue is notable here. Working in UNDP, transgender rights has been one of the key issues close to his heart and he has contributed tremendously for the community’s legalisation and empowerment in a big way through UNDP.

Following this seminar,  a number of meetings and seminars were organised by State Legal Services Authorities of various states. I spoke at the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority’s seminar and  at the seminar organized by Guahati University in Assam. I was invited by the Indian Judicial Academy and once again met Judiciary from all over the country and spoke infront of them insisting the very importance of legalising our gender and procuring our rights. I also spoke at the Jindal Global School of Law on the same issue stressing on acknowledging our rights as citizens of this country.

Kalki with Judge I.A.Ansari in Gauhati University

Kalki speaks
Activist Jeeva spoke at the State Judicial meeting at Raichur and at Hyderabad, Olga and Bharati Kannamma also spoke at various meetings. At the district level Judicial meetings, Sangeetha spoke at Coimbatore, Kajol at Trichy and Viji at Tuticorin did their best to take the issue in front of the Judiciary and voiced for social justice and legal recognition for transgender people.

Akkai did the work in Karnataka following in the steps of her predecessors like Pamela and Revathi, Seetha and Rudhra Chetri did it at New Delhi, Ranjita Sinha and Amitava Sarkar did fabulous work in West Bengal. There were a number of activists from other states who did similar work with passion for determination for our rights and recognition.

Priyababu at TN state Judicial Academy

 Jeeva Speaks
The result of this great hard work by transgender women in sensitizing the Judiciary of India and advocating for our rights finally reaped its results. NALSA filed a Social Jutice Litigation with the Supreme Court of India in 2013. The case was known as NALSA v/s Union of India. After almost an year and a half, on 15th April 2014 the Supreme Court of India recognised transgender people legally. It also directed the state and central government to take proactive measures.

For almost a decade, UNDP has done tremendous ground work and has supported in our battle towards legal recognition of the third gender.

From Priyababu filing a PIL in Madras High Court in 2005 for voting rights, Revathi bringing the first book revealing the transgender people's life in our own voice, to Swapna Karthik fighting in the court for the rights of  transgender people to enter into civil services, it is an indisputable fact that the Indian transgender movement’s battle for legal recognition started in Tamilnadu. I say it with great pride that the Tamil transwomen have contributed largely and powerfully by voicing for the community’s rights and taking actions in the right direction in our country. Certainly, the legal recognition of third gender would have not have been possible with out the immense contribution of Transwomen from Tamilnadu.

April 15th, the day the third gender people were recognized legally in India, should be announced as National Transgender day. Jai Hind!

Kalki Subramaniam at the Indian Judicial Academy, Bhopal


August 14th, 2010:
Tamilnadu Seminar:

Feb 4th, 2011
National Seminar:
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1159795.ece http://www.deccanherald.com/content/135025/judges-favour-law-social-acceptance.html

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