Queer Self-Reflections - Parvathi
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Sad times have been many- when I left my parents. When those at home told me that I was only going to have to live with Aravanis, it was difficult for me. If I was going to be this way they told me I had to leave home, and I was very depressed. For twenty years, I’d been a pampered child and now they were going to chase me off like I were an orphan. I couldn’t bear that at all. Till this minute, they haven’t accepted me. That has always been a very sad thing in my life. When the parents of other transgenders accept them and mine did not. When I think about it it is a very painful thing in my life.
There have been many funny moments. The funniest was when they tried to change me. They took me to many temples and had many religious rituals performed for me. When I look back at all that, it really is funny. It was such a vain attempt, but they didn’t quite understand me or my genitalia and so they took me to temples and offered prayers and did lots of such things.
Other than this, a very hard thing for me was that I had a lover. When I was in love with him, my transgender group warned me that he was a bad man and I shouldn’t love him, and that he would cheat me financially. But I liked him very much, needed him. Nobody understood my feelings. They would go bad mouth me to him and him to me and play around like that. I lost him because of that. I suffer for that loss. Right now, there’s an off chance that he will return. Even if he does, I don’t know if he will stay with me because they have said a lot of wrong things about me to him. They’ve said a lot of wrong things about him to me too. There was no way I could adequately understand him and they didn’t give him the space either to adequately understand me. In this respect, I’m angry with my transgender group. I doubt if I’ll ever get this life again. I miss him very much.
When I think of gender, I remember when I was a child and the time I didn’t know who I was. Even though I was physically male, my thoughts and feelings were that of a woman and I was very confused. I didn’t know anything about the word ‘gender’ then and to even describe who or what I was was confusion. I didn’t have a word for who I was. To me gender means, various sexual identities of human beings. I had studied that there was only the male body and the female body. Only when I heard of words like gender and sexuality that I came to know that it is mind feeling.
When It comes to gender i feel that I am like male but I feel like woman. So people like us come under which gender. There are people who are born male and behave like men but i was born male but I feel I am woman. I had many confusions. Otherwise I know that there are two genders men and women. I lived in a body of male but had the heart and feeling of woman. Yet the available options were only men and women. I felt my body by mistake was male and my feeling as women and so I just could not immediately put myself in any of these two genders. I would find it very difficult to explain my gender as to who I was and how my body miscommunicated. Gender is constructed in such a way that male means he should behave like man and woman should feel shy and so on. We are born like this and behave opposite to what we are expected to do.
When I hear the word gender, I think male or female. Then there would be a lot of confusion within me. I was dressed like a man and was physically like a man but my feelings and behaviour were like that of a woman. I questioned in which gender I would fit in. It was very confusing when I had to describe who I was to somebody else- which identity I gave myself and how I portrayed myself, how I should say it and what word to use. If i look at gender, if they’re male they behave like men and if they’re female they behave like women- they’re shy, etc. I was behaving oppositely. (Intercept) Like I said, there was a lot of confusion regarding gender. I was in a man’s clothing but I behaved like a woman. There was a lot of confusion on how I should talk about my identity. After a while, people began telling me who I was. They’d tell me I was a woman, call me ombodhu (literally: 9, in slang: transgender). I didn’t know if those identities fit inside gender. I’d only seen male or female, I hadn’t heard of this category. Because of that, my search for it increased. I enquired about it to a lot of people- which category did we come under, what word are we to use for our identity and that was when I got the word ‘transgender’. After that I’ve always referred to myself in all places as a transgender woman. After that I studied a lot, about transgenders, completed my B.Com. Now I use the term transgender woman to identify myself, my other identities are sex worker, activist and even a woman.
If I look at society it’s still troubling. Even to cross a street, I’d be so afraid. I’d wonder what they were going to say about me. When I was in school, there would be a lot of name calling. It would be very hard. When would this society change and accept us, I’d question. The same time a confusion would arise as to why they were a certain way and we like this (unclear) Society hasn’t changed yet and they still have to. My family for example. I’m a transgender and there has been a lot of news about me, in the newspapers, on television and they’ve said a lot of nice things about me. Though my family has seen all of that, they still haven’t accepted me. Only if every family accepts their children will society accept us. Even where there is society acceptance there still isn’t family acceptance. When families make up a society and they don’t accept us, how will the society accept us?
When I look back at my life, it feels like even general community also has faced this. I know such a song also. It’s from a film called Sindhu Bhairavi and the song is Naan Oru Sindhu. Whenever I listen to this song, it brings back memories. The questions and the values in this song, seem to reflect my life, so I’ve always connected the song to my life.
Naanoru sindhu kaavadichchindhu
raagam puriyavilla ulla soagam theriyavilla
sondhamedhuvumilla adha sollaththeriyavilla
This song is the right one for my life. The meanings that emerge in the stanzas reflect my life.
Illaadha uravukku ennenna paeroa
naadodip paattukkuth thaaythandhai yaaroa
Even when we have a lot of relationships in our transgender community, I’d still put my father and mother above them. These relationships, though present, are akin to not being present. We miss the homes we were born in and hence accept the relationships here. In truth, our real relations are our parents. I connect that to these lyrics.
Vidhiyoada naan aadum velaiyatta paaru
vellayaadha Kaattukku vedha poattadhaaru
I’ve struggled a lot in my life- I left home at 15, there was no financial support after that. I had to battle to reach where I have in life. Vellayaadha kaattukku vedha poattadhaaru implies what I knew me to be, but I was the seed that they planted and brought up and then they chased me away from home. This is why I connect this song to my parents.