Not man, not woman, we are transgenders, says activist Gauri Sawant from the viral Vicks ad

Refusing to be addressed as either a man or a woman, transgender activist Gauri Sawant said there was still a long way to go before the transgender community was recognized for who they actually were.
Activist Gauri Sawant (Photo | Youtube)
Activist Gauri Sawant (Photo | Youtube)

NEW DELHI: Refusing to be addressed as either a man or a woman, transgender activist Gauri Sawant said there was still a long way to go before the transgender community was recognized for who they actually were.

Speaking at Hijra Habba (Transgender Amalgamation) event organised here recently, the 37-year-old trans-mother said, "If people want to recognise us, then they should recognise us as transgenders." The event was organised by India HIV/AIDS Alliance, an organization working for the social rights of the transgenders in India, in association with Select City Walk.

The transgender community in India was recognised by the Supreme Court as the 'third gender' in 2014 in the famous NALSA judgment after a petition filed by transgender activists including Gauri and Laxmi Narayan Tripathy.

The court had also held that transgenders will be granted reservations in education and jobs.

It has been three years since the historic verdict, but Sawant said that it seemed to change people's mindsets would take longer.

"If people have started accepting me as a mother, they will also accept us at workplaces and give us more opportunities," she hoped.

Sawant had adopted a girl, Gayatri, who was about to be sold off in the red-light area of Sonagachi in Kolkata.

"I adopted a daughter to show that even we can become mothers. I did it for my justice, for my rights so that people can recognise us," she told PTI.

Not bothered by being stereotyped and judged, Gauri is proud of the identity given by nature.

"Law has identified us as transgenders. It is about who I am. I'm not an alien," she said.

While the fight for the transgenders' rights continues, she said she tried to find joy in the little things in life.

Last month she appeared on the much-loved quiz show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' hosted by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.

Talking about "golden opportunity", she said life had changed after her stint on television.

The show also featured popular singer Usha Uthup, one of Sawant's favorites, adding to her "fabulous" experience on the show.

"Life seems different now, I have received a lot of calls from people... I loved the game. Amitabh made me comfortable.

And I was also elated when he surprised me by bringing Usha Uthup to the show," she beamed.

She also commented on the ongoing debate over Section 377, which criminalizes homosexuality, saying it infringed upon the rights of not only the transgenders, but the whole LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex) community.

"Today we talk about gender equality, still, we are fighting to be treated as equals," she said, pointing out that the Indian Constitution did not discriminate against any gender by stating: "We, the people of India." 

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