Monday, August 9, 2010

Man, I feel like a woman

It is with a pinch of salt that Revathi narrates stories about her childhood crushes. “I used to write love letters to the boys I liked in class. But I never gave them. What would they think if a boy gave them a love letter?” she asks.

With the launch The Truth about Me — A Hijra Life Story, published by Penguin and translated from Tamil by V Geeta, A Revathi takes to the wider world, the story of her growing up, the years she groped for answers about her sexuality and how the sex change operation established her place in the society as a woman. At the launch of her book at Reliance TimeOut, as she addresses a curious set of people gathered around her, she chuckles as she says, “Before the surgery, people asked me why I had the mannerisms of a woman. Now people ask me why I have a man’s voice.”

It is a little hamlet in Namakkal taluk in Salem district that she calls home. In the book, she talks about how she returned from school to try on her sister’s long flowing skirt and tie a towel around her head and let it swing like a long braid. “No one thought of it much then, for I was little. They reasoned, he’ll outgrow all this when he grows older,” the book reads. Looking back at those years, she says, “I was a woman trapped in a man’s body.”

Revathi who made friends with other Hijras (transgenders) from around town used to take constant trips to the Villupuram festival organised by the state government, that was a melting pot for transgenders. There she danced, sang and gave oratory performances as part of the cultural celebrations. “Of course, I never told my parents where I was going,” she recalls. That’s where she met a group of hijras from Delhi and soon she left home, making her way to Delhi, to escape the constant jabbing from her neighbours and the embarrassment she caused her parents. “My parents never understood me,” she says. “Understanding begins in the family. It then spreads to the street, the neighbourhood and the rest of the world,” she notes. “I had my sex change operation at 16. That made me look like a woman, not just think like one,” she says.

Full report here New Indian Express

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