KOZHIKODE: A year ago, when Vijesh returned to her home in Thervayal Colony in Noolpuzha in Wayanad, in addition to her new attire, she had also donned a new identity and even a new name – Prakriti N V. Though her mother and younger brother identified her easily, they were not ready to accept this ‘new’ her, dressed up like a woman. For them, she still remained as their son and brother, Vijesh.
“It was not easy. But I had to do it, for my peace of mind,” said Prakriti, who is the first transwoman from the Paniya community in Wayanad. “My mother and my brother have still not accepted the way I am, but surprisingly, my community has welcomed me wholeheartedly. This was unexpected,” she added.
A graduate of history, Prakriti has also completed a teacher’s training course. “My life and perception of life changed after moving from Wayanad district for higher studies. I met several like-minded people who were ready to hear me,” said Prakriti, who is the general secretary of Adishakti summer school, an organisation that works for the empowerment of tribal students in the state.
“It was to my friends in Adishakti that I revealed my identity first. They were very supportive. It helped me in coming out as a transwoman. Had it not been for them, I would have likely ended up as a sex worker,” Prakriti said. The organisation helped me understand the importance of education and how it can lead us in the future. The tribal students under the organisation are urged to have a good education, she added.
“After I revealed my identity, many children and even grownups from our community have come to me to talk about their own identity and how they are unable to reveal it to the world,” Prakriti said.“I had to face several challenges from the day I revealed my identity. The fact that there are these challenges to face refrain many from revealing their true identity,” she added.
On the misconception prevailing in society that transgender people are sex workers, Prakriti said that people must try to accept us as we are, just like any other person.
The 24-year-old has decided to run a campaign among the students in the tribal community to create awareness about gender and sexuality. For this purpose and to garner support for her mission, Prakriti is in talks with the Tribal development office.