Praveen was a bright student in his college days. After graduating in Botany, he got a job in the sales department of a private bank. For him, it was the happiest moment. But soon he was down with depression when his colleagues refused to accept him as one among them and passed crude remarks regarding his ‘feminine’ behaviour. To counter the snide remarks, Praveen adopted a new avatar - which he believes is his natural self - and became Princy.
Today, the young transgender is leading a life of her own, battling a society which has ostracised her and others of her ilk. She had quit the bank and taken up social work. “It is not our fault for what we are. We are happy to be what we are. It is only that the society does not want to accept us and the people’s aversion is what hurts us the most,” says Princy, secretary of Coimbatore Transgenders’ Association (CTA). “It is a daily challenge for us as most of us have been shunned by our parents, friends, relatives and teachers. People look at us with contempt. They don’t realise that the biological changes in us is a natural occurrence,” she adds.
In her case, she had realised the changes evolving within her when she was 13. “Initially I tried to suppress my feelings. But there was always an urge to break free from the shackles within,” recalls Princy.
Another transgender Poonkuyil, who hails from a rich family in Pollachi, had to leave her home to lead her own life.
“I was born Babu. I left for Mumbai and stayed there for two years where I was forced into prostitution and begging. I underwent a sex change surgery and was regularly harassed by anti-socials and police. Even now, I have the urge to go back to my parents but they don’t want to accept me. When I see others with their parents, it leaves me yearning,” she adds.
“We understand the feelings of people. However they never understand ours,” laments Gayathri, who fortunately lives with her parents. There are more than 1,300 transgenders in Coimbatore and none of them willingly prefers to beg or indulge in prostitution.
“But we are never offered an opportunity to lead a life of dignity even if we are skilled. Employers see us an embarrassment,” she says.