Queer Self-Reflections - Savitha
Duration: 00:27:59; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 60.102; Saturation: 0.048; Lightness: 0.507; Volume: 0.249; Cuts per Minute: 0.465; Words per Minute: 71.469
I trust my struggle. In this society when I ask questions and pose problems about our existence, they will not answer us.
So from 2003 I have believed in struggle and movement.
I have learnt a lot from this struggle.
Sometimes our own community people have stood against us.
My family people have also perpetrated mental and physical violence on me.
They have insisted that I should not were saree, wear the women’s dress, not grow my hair, should cut my hair, no ornaments; a man should be like a man.
I have taken all these as challenge and struggled against it.
I have succeeded also in the process of changing my people and people in my village around 30 – 40%.
I have gained respect and acceptance.
There is still 70% of work to be done and through struggle whether it will happen today or tomorrow, I strongly believe in struggle and movement.
When I was in Mumbai I had joined the Hijra community.
I had finished my sex change surgery so I could not go to my village to my family.
A distance had developed between my family and me.
At that time my father passed away.
My father thought I was his son but I was not. According to my feelings I was a daughter.
I had not got the information about his ill health.
Then when I lived with my partner, because of some misunderstandings he quit his life, that is he died.
At that time I was very confused about who I belonged to, whom should I live with, what support would I get etc.
I thought that I do not have a life and I lived alone for quite some years.
During that time I felt that death is the only answer.
I could not share with my family people about my agony on the other hand society’s restriction on gender makes people like us to die in confines.
From 2007 I have been fighting and struggling to live not just for myself but also to my community people who are born male and want to live as women.
When family do not accept our feeling I want to be a model for people to show either through media or directly in contact with them to change their parents.
In the process I want to also work to get acceptance from my own family.
I have worked like this till now and future also my focus is on getting a respectable job and getting acceptance from society and family.
I was born on 23rd July 1979.
When I was around 8-9 years I used to feel inferior about myself.
I was confused whether to be with girls or with boys.
When I was around 11 years I was being ridiculed in the names of Chakka, Mamu, Ombothu and in the most colourful ways possible.
People would say that I should have joined ‘that’ group.
I was also confused if I belonged to that or this.
Whatever they said my heart desired something and my body desired something.
First I felt I wanted to be in love with a boy, but whom, who will love me or like me. That desire remained as a question in me.
I went to Mysore to study and stayed in a hostel from 5th class to plus 2.
A male born person should become a man – this fear made me stay back in my hostel.
In my village I had to behave like a man and to avoid that even during holidays and festivals I never went to my village. I lost all my happiness.
After that I searched for my community; people like me and went to Mumbai.
Then for 2-3 years there was not contact with my family in any way.
It led me to think that what my life is.
The only option left for me was to surgically take away the masculinity from my body which was not at all there in my heart and mind.
When I became woman I had the desire that I should also participate in the festivals of my village like how other women do, to meet my sisters and mother.
During that time my father died.
In my family when I was born after three months my father deserted my mother.
He lived in a different village with another woman. After that our family was my mother, my sister and me.
I have never grown up in fathers love and also I never felt that I need that love.
Years later one day I got a call that my father was seriously ill and that I had to visit him.
I was in serious mess, should I go as a daughter or as a son. I could not decide I just went as I was.
He was admitted in a hospital in Mysore.
I went near his bed.
He asked who is this and why have you changed your costume. He rebuked me.
The woman who lived with my father had two children.
They accused me that for the sake of father’s property, I had changed my costume.
They never understood that I had not changed the costume but I had changed myself according to my heart, my mind and body.
When I shared this with my mother in my village, they argued that what my father said was right and arranged for a barber to cut my hair. In the middle of the village, in front of everyone they forcibly cut my hair. I was extremely hurt at that moment.
When they were cutting my hair in front of the whole village I was in extreme pain thinking what will happen to my future.
I am a woman and have everything that a woman has but why still they never understood.
I felt and decided that I should make them understand that we are also women. Who am I? I should not live like what they say I should live like the way I want.
I escaped from my village that night.
I kept running to reach some place in hiding and escaping from my villagers. I would have run some 30 – 40 kilometres. I crossed fields and towns and then came to some city and from there reached Mumbai.
At that time even in the community they were ridiculing me.
Fortunately for me at that time the film ‘Girl Friend’ was released.
In our community cutting hair is a big sin, so justified that this is a style like in the film Girl Friend.
I got acceptance that I was trying to be like a model.
In our community we have only two options; sex work and begging. I wanted to do some other work other than that. I joined a voluntary organisation for job.
That is when I felt a personal struggle should actually extend to all my community people, when they face problems, to recognise it and the address it being a support.
Why should I not be that support.
I started living like that from that day to this day.
In 2003 I came to Bangalore and joined a voluntary organisation to work in different positions.
I gained knowledge and experience along with joining different struggles and movements.
As Savita now I have furthered my struggle and have been successful in getting acceptance from my sister and mother saying I am like this and also got acceptance from my villagers. Now I go to my village the way I am I do not change dress.
My mother and sister have visited my house in Bangalore. I still have a lot of work to do for social change.
In 2007 I came to Bangalore and that there was a position vacant in a HIV prevention project. I got a job in Sangama.
I was working there and felt happy that this is the better way for my struggle.
I came to bangalore in 2007
I was doing sexwork and begging and my Hira friend told me
She said that there is the work of distribution of condoms in an human rights organisation called Sangama. I asked them and they gave me a job
when i worked there I felt very happy that I got a chance for my struggle to succeed.
I was participating in different movements. I would openly come out in media and speak about our community. Whenever I would stand in protests and shout slogans against the injustice on our community and other people, it was both happiness and comedy for me.
I have participated in protests against toher social injustice
It was comedy because I am not able to get solutions for my problems how much would I really contribute to struggles just by being in protests.
At the same time I would think that we need support and kind of back bone.
When I realised that my participation also gives strength not only to them but also to my community, I would rush to any problems and work on it.
I would voluntarily take up to work resolving problems.
I had thought that Sangama was my backbone for the struggle but I ended up struggling with the same organisation.
We community people do sex work and begging and that is not easy. So we were made to form the Karnataka Sexual Minority Forum.
I have participated in those protests.
We were also made members in Karnataka Sex workers Union as we could address our problems and issues in that Union.
I was also a community member of Samara a community organisation working for the social entitlements.
In any society organisation there are some rules that elections happen and representatives are elected democratically.
The organisation leaders themselves broke the rules we questioned.
They could not tolerate our questioning and started troubling us.
In our family there was issue that being born male I should grow up to be man.
On the other hand traditional community people insist that you should not work in offices; you should be doing sex work and begging.
And finally when we are working in the organisation where you get knowledge and experience through which you start questioning, there is no space for it. They would say this is not the forum to question.
I have changed my body according to my mind fighting against the society, where should I go if I do not even have space to question or raise issues.
This made my struggle much stronger;
to bring about change in my family, society and fight for our rights against those people who are misleading us in the name of community rights.
If there are problems in community we must make them to locate the problem and fight against it wherever it could be; even Sangama and Samara.
I have even gone to the extent of filing a case against these organisations to fight for truth and justice.
I request you all to see what will happen in this struggle for justice and truth.
In Samara there were many problems and misunderstandings among us,
so to resolve issue we organised a meeting in UTC. We organised a meeting of all the members.
I had taken my mother along with me to this meeting.
There were important people like Rex and Manohar. If I have to bring about changes in my family I thought that it is important that we have to show all these developments to our family.
There were heated discussions and debates and slowly it turned in huge fight.
After the meeting my mother said “oh boy, you are the only one for me, do not get into all these, we can just buy two cows and live our life, why should you be involved in all these”.
I then explained to my mother that she also did the same thing to me.
If I would grow my hair she would get it cut in front of the entire village.
Here too it is no different; if we ask questions, we are being treated like thieves, and anti-people.
This is not just a small fight this is a huge struggle, a movement. I am very hopeful that one day we would get justice and an answer.
I told her that the she would accept me and respect me for what I am that day the change will also reflect in this struggle and movement positively.
Before this my mother was insisting that I should get back to my village.
Now she says stay where you are fight for truth and that will take you to the desired results one day definitely.