November 20th is celebrated as a Transgender Day of Remembrance in memory of those who lost their life to trans hate and consequently, violence. Below is an account of what a life of transgender woman looks like straight from the heart of a dear member of our family.
My day starts like everyone else’s. I wake up, bathe, cook some breakfast and soon leave for work. My work might be different from you, but it feeds me and pays my bills, nonetheless. I have 3 career paths to choose from, dhandha (sex work), basti (begging) and badhai (asking for money in return of blessing). I chose to do basti. This means I am one of the faces you see on the signals, in shops, on the footpaths and local trains, which are asking you to spare an amount that you won’t notice, if it goes missing, but holds the ability to feed me.
No, I don’t enjoy asking. Even though so many of you are generous towards me, I still get beaten, teased and endure physical torture. There have been times, when I have been treated so badly, that I have fallen sick, unable to go to work for the next few days. Once, I was beaten so bad, my ear bled for 2 days. I still fear going out for work in the evening. Thankfully, with the bad, good exists. A lot of bystanders have helped me. Sometimes, even the police come to our rescue. Most of the times, if something happens to me, I call my guru and all my friends who handle the situation. I am still afraid to register a complaint in the police station.
I left home when I was 20. I used love to help my mother cook and wear my sister’s clothes. The society started to know about me. It has been 14 years since I left that place. I still go sometimes to visit them. I miss them, but have found a mentor in my guru, a mother in guru nani and friends in all the other community members.