Queer Self-Reflections - Yamini
Duration: 00:27:51; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 47.044; Saturation: 0.176; Lightness: 0.428; Volume: 0.261; Cuts per Minute: 1.077; Words per Minute: 70.892
I feel very happy about my life because I feel I have come out of all the problems and pains that suffered earlier.
Now I know about myself, my sexuality, my gender, my rights and more awareness about these issues which has given me more self-confidence.
I have been able to state my identity openly and am living happily.
My life before this was a big confusion.
I was in big fear if I was the only person like this, if there are other people like me, why am I alone and like this, why am I not like other men, why am I so different, me being like this would lead into problems for others - these were constant thoughts in my mind.
I could not share about my identity to anyone.
My family harassed me a lot for not behaving like ‘man’, and being feminine.
Even during the school time, all the boys would stare at me in a wrong sense, like a strange thing. I would get much interest for studying.
I used to feel why people look at me in such a strange manner, am I not a human being.
At the same time I would also get attracted to boys, I would feel like having sex with them and be friendly with them and live with them as friends.
One question was always disturbing me, why in our society only a man and woman should get married to make a family; in the same way why should I not be married to a man and play the role of a wife.
At this point of time I did not have self-confidence to face the society and continue my education.
I discontinued in my 10th. I joined a job, even there I faced discrimination.
Even though I did not want to show my identity it eventually get revealed through my way of speaking, style of walking, etc.
I would feel very sad that I could not show my identity, why I should hide my identity. I used to cry all alone.
I could not share with anyone as I did not have any friends.
Men would sexually abuse me in my work place. At my work place I was extremely scared to use the toilet as men would come and sexually abuse me in my anus.
Now when I look back, I am amazed at myself about the kind of courage I have developed with lot of self-confidence.
I would like to share about the problems I face when I was working.
I used to work in weaving unit. Every night there would 1 or 2 hours power cut during that time.
I would be working from morning 8 to evening 9.
One day when the power went off, I was just standing there in my work place. A boy, since it was dark I did not know whom, came and bit my lips and I was bleeding.
The blood fell on the weaving material.
After the power came my supervisor came and blamed me and accused me of spoiling the boys in the factory. He said that boys in the unit are getting spoilt due to my feminine behaviour. So I had to quit my job.
I was 22 years then and if I had to live there were no one in my family to give me free food.
I had to earn to survive. If I went to jobs I had to face this problem of sexual harassment for I was feminine. Then I seriously thought of suicide.
I felt there was no other way. My mother was the only support for me. I wanted to give my share of the property to my mother but in my house people would always tell me that I was not a person who would get married and that I would live and die in the same state.
During that time I came with my mother to Bangalore to my sister's house.
On the third day I went to see off my mother in the bus stand.
That was the first day that I saw a person like me there. I felt like talking to that person.
After talking to him and many people like him I felt like I had a fresh lease of life. I felt I was not alone.
I met more friends. Some of them were doing sex work.
I was in my sister’s house in Bangalore and problems had started there. without job how many days would they keep me and I too could not get aa job.
At that time I would walk all around the Bangalore to meet my friends as I did not have any money with me.
In the afternoons I would not have lunch because I did not have money with me. If had breakfast and leave the house I would walk and come to Cubbon Park and Majestic areas skip my lunch and spend time with lot of friends.
Then I realized a lot of my friends were doing sex work for their survival. Then I started doing sex work.
I did sex work for three years and experience pain and violence at the hand of goons forcing sex, police beating up severely and not letting pick up clients.
During this time I got a chance to work as a volunteer in a human rights organisation.
I was still doing sex work then. Later they gave me a part time job for 1500.
I felt more satisfied in that work so I quit doing sex work.
When I joined the human rights organisation I felt whatever I have suffered other community people like me should not suffer and started working seriously for rights of our community people. I got involved in different activities.
Now am leading a happy life. I feel proud about myself. In fact I am leading my life with many community people. I feel proud about my life.
Whatever I have shared till now, I felt extremely happy in that moment when I met a person like me. That is a moment I can never forget in my life.
I could never share my feelings, my pains and my struggle to my parents or family, friends or even workers in my house or my colleagues.
Now when I met a person like me I could share everything with them, my feelings and my sexual desire. I also got information about where we would get partners.
I was extremely happy that I met an entire community that had feelings like me.
The most difficult moment of my life where I felt that could not endure anymore and wanted to commit suicide was when my family refused to accept me.
My brother and sister in law told me that since I am like this I do not need any property. My brother never understood my feelings.
He never considered me as a human being.
When I heard him say all these to me heartlessly I felt that I just should not live.
In the same manner, the turning point in my life, where I started asserting myself, was when I met community like me.
Each person sharing their pains, violence struggle with each other gave immense power and strength to each of us to state openly that “we are like this”. That built our self-confidence.
That was also the moment that I felt strongly that I should work for my community for our rights.
This was also the time that I had joined the human rights organisation and started realising our rights. That was when I felt that I should live and achieve.
I forgot to share something with you all. I find the way people look at as a big comedy because we are only expressing our feeling,
why should people look at us strangely; the way we walk the way we talk, we are also human beings and we have different expression.
I always mix with people and cut jokes.
That is because we as community would have undergone lot of pain.
We always keep the pain and agony in our heart and the only relief is when we accept humour. To be able to face the pain and agony, to be able to face the society humour that each of us bring out is important.
Even if we are able to laugh whole heartedly for two minutes and if I am able to make my community and friends laugh I too will feel happy.
Gender according to the society is man and woman.
There a lot of people like us who do not want to identify either as man or woman according to the society.
I am one among them.
I do not like to identify myself as a man because my feelings are my feelings that cannot be defined.
Each individual has their own feelings, preferences and choice that is not defined by the society.
We have to consider gender based on individual’s freedom.
According to me we should not go by the definition of gender as what society says.
And I say it very strongly. I might be born male that does not mean that I should behave like men. I have feelings which are mine and I feel I am more like a woman, I like to behave like women,
work like women and I do not get sexually attracted to girls. Sexually I get attracted to men.
Gender is something that is related to what each person feels inside not defined by anyone from outside.
I am saying this to the society too that gender is a person’s choice and we cannot force the society defined gender on individuals. We should respect each person’s freedom of expression.
Yes people and society have restrictions that women should be like this and men should be like this.
But I do not like to live like that because it is constructed by the society.
When I define my gender based on my feelings there is no space for anyone to question it.
I do not identify my gender as man.
I am choosing my gender based on my feelings
Nobody can question this as this is related to my gender
Then I realised it is through what society has constructed that men should be in a certain way and women should be in a certain way.
I started observing in myself that though I am born male I did not feel like I belonged to that definition of man.
I strongly say that I do not conform to the gender defined by the society.
I do not like to be boxed in any gender. Based on my feelings I have chosen my gender.
In the 13 years of my struggle I have seen many changes in society.
The society does not have much information about us and
Secondly society has accepted us to a certain extent, yet I feel that I am outside of this society.
Because society has not understood our feelings till now.
It is our responsibility to give information about us to the society. That is why there is so less acceptance for us
If we have to become one with this society then we have design many program to give information about us. It could in the form of theatre or other programs.
Till now, in my 13 years of struggle, what I can see is that for Hijras there is some acceptance.
Politically too because of the interactions and lobbying there are facilities and reservations being brought for Hijras through employment and rehabilitation.
Culturally too because people feel that Hijras have the power of through their blessing they have gained sympathy from the society.
But people with feminine feelings who live in pant shirt do not have that kind of acceptance.
They have less education, cannot work without harassment, they face problems to continue education.
They actually do not have acceptance not only that they also do not have acceptance within themselves due to the society outside. We also have a responsibility to inform society about ourselves, and society also has a responsibility to understand us.
Society should understand us when we speak openly, and through different forms of arts like theatre.
Society should also accept us and we should also make the society understand us. It is a two way work.