RAMANATHAPURAM: “I was returning from work when a cop threatened to hit me. He used abusive words thinking that I was a prostitute. My life changed that day and I wanted to change the hideous belief that all transgenders are sex workers,” said R Nasriya, the second transgender in India to enter the police force.
The incident drove Nasriya to decide to become a part of the force, change the perspective about the third gender among the police force and change the way they treated them.
Life was not easy for Nasriya, ever since her school days when she started experiencing feminine feelings. Fatherless from the age of 10, she was under the care of her widowed mother and grandparents, as Jegatheeswaran, at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district.
“When I was in Class XII, I realised that I was a transgender. When I informed my family about this, they started hating me. I was shattered and attempted suicide by taking rat poison,” Nasriya recalled.
After undergoing surgery to change her sex in 2013, Nasriya, then a first-year civil engineering student, tried to reconcile with her family, only to get rejected by them. She had no option but to leave her home and join the people of her community.
“My family members were worried about how the society would react and feared that I would bring disgrace to the family’s reputation. I dropped out of college and ran away, back to Coimbatore, to join the transgenders,” she said.
But young and inexperienced, she did not realise that there would be more nightmares in store for her in Coimbatore. Nasriya revealed that she underwent many kinds of tortures during the two years that she stayed at the Transgenders Welfare Association in Coimbatore.
“They forced me and the other transgenders to beg and indulge in sex work to be able to earn money through us. I was beaten, tortured and humiliated. When I warned them that I would complain to the police, they threatened me by saying that they would throw charges of theft against me with fake witnesses,” recounted Nasriya.
Fortunately, she was saved when her family reconciled and she was reunited with them two years later. But this was not the end. Now she had the responsibility of supporting her family and protect herself from verbal and sexual abuse from the people of the town.
“I was attacked several times by men. Knowing that I am a transgender they tried to use me for sexual favours. Suffering and traumatised, I used to beg god not to make me a transgender in my next birth,” Nasriya said.
The three-time suicide survivor had more downs than ups but she was determined not to fall prey to the dark trade of prostitution. She was kicked out of her job and had to leave another job due to the dreadful opinion in the society that abominated transgenders, labelling them as sex workers.
“Though I had to struggle a lot to get a job, I was firm in my resolve that I would never resort to immoral ways to earn my bread. Money alone is not important. Self-respect matters a lot to me,” she said. And when the policeman humiliated and treated her like a criminal, Nasriya decided that she had had enough.
“I wanted to change everything. By entering the police force, I wanted to prove that transgenders are fit for noble professions too,” said Nasri ya.