Courage is a decision
It took Preethisha, a transgender, just a little strength and self-reliance to step ahead, fight her family at 15 and take charge of her life. She tells Chahak Mittal that her fight was not for her gender identity but her basic right to live the way she wanted
While a part of the battle for LGBTQIA+ community might have been won when Supreme Court passed the verdict on Section 377 that decriminalised homosexuality in India, more than half of it is still left, which will take place only when people make the place more socially inclusive for the community. Born male in a village in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, Preethisha currently a resident of Chennai, believes just that. She was 15 when she underwent a sex-change surgery and since then has been pushing boundaries to establish her personality in the society that has often shunned the LGBTQIA+ community.
“I did it on my own. I stayed with my family till 15 and then shifted out when I realised that my sexual identity was different. There was no support from them. They started fearing me due to my identity. Unhone kaha ki main normal nahi hun (They said that I wasn’t normal). I started living with a group of local people who were also kinnars (transgenders). They supported me a lot and also helped me pay for the surgery when I couldn’t have afforded it by myself,” says she.
However, going through “countless” challenges and facing the society alone “were worth” it as they made her what she is today. She tells us, “Had I not taken the step, I would have spent my life as a male. I would have never moved out and done anything about my sexuality and forced myself to not live life on my own terms. Ek duplicate si life jeeni padti (I would have lived a duplicate life). Why? I didn’t want to live like that.”
Currently working as a delivery partner with UberEats, she narrates how before finding an opportunity with the food delivering company, she had tried in many other companies in the same segment, but didn’t get approvals. “I tried but I couldn’t find anything as they didn’t allow me to reach the manager when they got to know that I was a trans. They said the managers refuse to meet trans people as they wanted ‘normal’ people to work for their company.
Some even said that they will give the job but will not pay enough. And I didn’t want to work somewhere where I am not respected or paid enough,” says she and adds that one of the major setbacks for development in the Indian society comes from the deep-rooted stereotypes and discriminatory prejudices that affect the mindsets of its people. “Jab tak yeh padhe likhe aur uche log aisa sochenge aur hum jaise logon ko job nahi denge, toh kaise badhega desh? (If educated and urban people will continue following this mentality, the country will not develop.)”
When we talk about the historic Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Preethisha, who is now married to trans-man G Premkumaran, says that she doesn’t consider herself as a part of its fight anymore. However, she feels that for those who are in this, have a long way to go. “Duniya koi ek chutki me nahi badalti (The world doesn’t change in an instant). It will take time. Indian culture is great in terms of its history, heritage and traditions but when it comes to aesthetics and mindsets, it’s a mammoth task to transform them.
I don’t see myself as a part of their fight anymore because I have been through most of it and have also come out it. I was a boy but my sex-change surgery made me a girl today. I was also deprived to a great extent but today, I am happily married to a man who loves me and that is all I want. When people understand this need for living with their family and companion, they will also be able to understand the plight of those who are devoid of it,” she says.
However, she says that today there is no point in fighting even if she is a trans and very much a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. “I am not saying that others shouldn’t fight. If anybody is gay or lesbian, they should. But people’s mentality here is that they should keep it to themselves and in their private spaces, rather than displaying it in public. If two people in love have to hold each other’s hands or kiss each other, they shouldn’t indulge in it publicly.
They have a point. Because when trans people took to the roads and fought for its community, they didn’t fight for their gender, the fight was for their rights. Today, no matter how long it took, but we have the right to hold an ID card, have a ration registration, tickets for public conveyance and a separate column for educational applications. We have our names on it. India will take time to justify gender identities but before that, if they have a hold on their rights, they will be able to govern their lives better publicly and have more advantages,” adds she.
Her fight wasn’t for her gender, she says, but for her right to live the way she wanted to. “If we explain it to the society in this way, they will understand it better. Varna woh confuse ho jayenge aur hume kabhi accept nahi karenge (Otherwise they would get confused and never accept us). So let them do what they want to but I would say, right now explain them that it’s the life you want to live with human rights.”
Preethisha, who has made an appearance in a few Tollywood films like Paambhu Sattai, Veeraiyan, and Vellai Yaanai, looks forward to making a brighter acting career in the industry and “entertain people with her roles and drama.”
Courtesy ; The Pioneer