THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The road ahead for mainstreaming the trans community is going to be a long process. But as with all cases, change is inevitable and has been felt everywhere, says Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Acharya Mahamandaleshwar of Kinnar Akhara. The transgender saint and activist, who was in the city, says she is satisfied with how the state and the society have changed in their acceptance of the trans community.
Kinnar Akhara is a sect of saints from transgender community, which was founded in 2015. Currently, the sect, which is based on the outskirts of the national capital, has 23 transgender sanyasins. Laxmi Narayan, who was born a male in Gorakhpur, realised his feminine self even in childhood. She was in Kerala for ayurveda treatment and was on a visit to the capital, exploring the place.
“I was at a jewellery shop and they were quite warm. Things are changing slowly everywhere. Ten years ago this wouldn’t have happened. They are welcoming, accommodative and helpful. I was undergoing the treatment in a village area and even there, the response was pretty warm. So, when things are changing in the village, it means the whole perspective has changed,” she says.
Recalling the days when she had tried to establish Kinnar Akhara, Laxmi Narayan says the acceptance of the trans community in the spiritual realm has turned out to be a great advocacy for their acceptance in the societal realm. It was after many a struggle that she along with fellow community members was able to establish a place for the trans community in the spiritual sects. There were 13 spiritual sects, or Akharas which are privileged to attend Maha Kumbh Mela. In 2019, Kinnar Akhara was also added to the list and its Mahamandaleswar Laxmi Narayan got the chance to be with other great saints to lead Kumbha Mela.
“Since the spiritual texts mention us, it gave us strength to make a place in the spiritual world. You may not speak about us but we are there in the spiritual texts. The idea is to reclaim the position of the community in the Vedic Sanatana Dharma,” she says.
With the aim of mainstreaming trans community, she recently co-founded a company ‘Kineer Services Pvt Ltd’. It not only employs trans people, but also ensures their placement. She is all praise for the initiatives of Kerala government to bring transgender persons to mainstream.
“Kerala has undergone tremendous change in its treatment of trans community over the past few years. Before the Centre could formulate a transgender policy, Kerala came up with one. The society has turned very welcoming and accepting when compared to how it was 10 years ago,” she says.
Laxmi says that it calls for political, bureaucratic, and policy advocacy to get ahead. According to her, the areas that need focus are access to quality healthcare, shelter and education. “There should be no school and college dropouts. I believe that trans people should also focus on entrepreneurship. They should start small businesses that can help them,” she says.
“My life is like a celebration. It has all the shades of colours, some good, some bad. When I look back, I am content. With this position of Mahamandaleshwar, I can help so many people, and people of my own kind. The soul is more important. The soul is without gender. We should understand that,” she says.