Indian parents can accept their kids as rapists, murderers, criminals but not as transgender. I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable.
Be yourself, the world will adjust.
Fearless, kind-hearted, and determined are some sobriquets that can do a little justice to the introduction of Shree Gauri Sawant. As someone, who fought against all hardships ever for the transgender community of India, she is India’s first transgender mother and an activist working dedicatedly for society to accept and respect them for who they are.
Born as Ganesh Suresh Sawant, in a conservative family in the city of Pune, Gauri recalls her childhood as painful and traumatic for her. At the young age of 9 Gauri lost her mother, after her mother’s demise, she realized that she recognizes herself as different from others.
After her mother passed away, she was raised by her grandmother and father. As a kid, she had always been effeminate and more inclined towards the female gender. In school, Gauri was always mocked by her classmates, who even used derogatory terms to tease her.
After qualifying 10th standard, Gauri finally decided to leave her house due to a lack of acceptance from her father. With the help of the Humsafar Trust, Gauri underwent a transition. Without the support of her family and no roof to live under, her journey from Ganesh to Gauri wasn’t an easy one.
“A parent’s support is the most pivotal factor in shaping the lives of their children. One of the biggest reasons behind the aggression of our transgender community is the lack of acceptance by our very own parents.”
Her journey to become a mother is one of the most beautiful and treasured memory, Gauri holds. Gayatri, her daughter, was left orphaned in 2001 after the demise of her biological mother, who was a sex worker, died of HIV. Gayatri’s grandmother decided to sell Gayatri to a dealer in Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light area in Kolkata.
Gauri had decided to become the mother to this little girl and she decided to adopt her. As a transgender, it wasn’t a regular mother life for her. As she walked on the streets holding Gayatri, she was looked down upon by a few people. But as a proud mother to a daughter, Gauri’s life did change her into a whole new person. She raised Gayatri like every mother does, fighting all odds. Today, Gayatri is herself a mother and Shree Gauri has become a Naani.
You don’t have to be a biological mother to mother a child. I don’t feel special. I became a mother because of Gayatri and she is my pillar of strength. I did what every mother does.
In the year 2000, along with Ashok Row Kavi and two others, Gauri formed an NGO of her own called ‘Sakhi Char Chowghi’ in Malad, Mumbai. Her motive was to provide a space of freedom to all transgenders, hijras, and men who have sex with men (MSMs) in the city. 16 years down the line, with a team of 150 workers, Gauri promotes safe sex and provides counseling to transgenders from the Mumbai suburbs.
She is also the petitioner of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgement that was passed in 2013. She made a home “NaniKaGhar” run by elderly transgenders who are unable to work take care of the children. The idea of starting a home occurred to her during a red light area visit where a 4-month-old was strained to her mother’s saree. Gauri continues to fight for many many other rights being deprived of them.
“Nothing is more significant for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world.
This will happen only when transphobia is overcome at the level of individual attitudes and prejudices and in larger institutions of education, law, health care, and kinship”
Gauri emphasizes the need for acceptance of the LGBT community in all the domains of life.
Apart from necessities like food and water, she focuses on the basic fundamental rights everyone deserves as a citizen of this country. Her fight to no more stay as a minority and to grow along with other genders is going to be a long one, but this doesn’t shake her spirits in any manner.
“Ultimately, the transgender question is about more than just sex. It’s about what it means to be human. We have arrived and we will achieve, so please accept and recognize us as normal as we have a lot of love to offer to this society” concludes Gauri.
Women Shine wishes Shree Gauri Sawantji all the best in her endeavours.
Written by- Aditi Gupta
A vivacious and lively girl living in Delhi, on her voyage for exploration of colours in life. A glimpse of what she does: Read, write, eat, Repeat!