Tender yet tough: Writings of a trans poet

Vijayarajamallika, the first trans poet in Malayalam, has carved out a space for unapologetic non-binary literature

Published: 06th July 2021 06:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2021 12:53 PM   |  A+A-



Express News Service

KOCHI: Vijayarajamallika is taking over the Malayalam literary world by fire. Her poems, laced with raw honesty, can reach the readers and rearrange their rigid view of the world. She is making headway in the heteronormative literary world with her inclusive and sensitive language. “I began my career declaring my identity as a trans woman. Through my poems, I often speak about the struggles of transgender, intersex, and non-binary communities in a pseudo-moralistic society,” she says.    

Most of her poems have deep personal attachments. Be it her lullaby for intersex children or ‘Jalebi’, a poem about the yearning for a mother’s unconditional love and understanding. “It is both political and personal as it speaks about the lives and struggles of existing as a non-binary person,” she adds.

Pages from her life
Vijayarajamallika didn’t have an easy life — be it coming out or making her mark in the literary world, which makes her life a highly political statement. “The path to establishing myself as a poet in a non-binary context was a difficult one, considering how little we discuss that end of the gender spectrum. My poems on expressions, sexual orientations, intersex identities, and the struggles that come with it were quite new to Malayalam readers. Many times, I had to face questions about my own identity,” she recalls. 

Her recent poem Meesakumari, published in a Malayalam weekly, talks about the acceptance for a moustache  — especially among women. To be an inclusive writer, she has had to formulate new imageries and words to describe the aspirations and existence of LGBTIAQ+ lives. “My poems spoke about realities that the heteronormative world often misses.

As most existing imageries concentrate on man, woman, and reproduction, I had to explore new images and ideas,” she shares. “The conventional and pseudo-progressive writers were sceptical. There are writers, who don’t bother about being politically correct in terms of language and pronouns,” she adds.

In 2020, Vijayarajamallika released A Word to Mother, a collection of poems that narrates the tender love of a mother through a lullaby she sings for an intersex child. It also exposes how this love transforms into cruelty due to ignorance, lack of acceptance, and unrealistic expectations.Translations of Vijayarajamallika’s poems are available in various languages. The poet started writing in Hindi when she was young, followed by Tamil, then Malayalam and English. “I speak five languages and write in four languages,” she adds. However, she concentrates more on Malayalam and English. During the pandemic, Vijayarajamallika contributed three poetry collections and a lullaby for intersex babies. “My coming out and life experiences were so tough that it made me strong enough to face any such hardships of life,” she says. “New writings will create more knowledge about the LGBT communities. Across the world, many gay and queer authors are doing this, and in the process helping many others turn their lives around,” she says.


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