Ahead of her time

Ahead of her time


Ahead of her time

 Kalki has given transgenders the right to live with dignity through Sahodari. Transgender women have the right to fall in love and marry the man of their dreams,”  says Kalki Subhramanium. A transgender from the small town of Pollachi in Tamil Nadu, Kalki has started an initiative that is a boon to many from her community across the country, searching for Mr Right. Call it a step towards empowerment. Kalki founded the matrimonial website for transsexuals — Thirunangai.net.

How did it all come about? “A few years ago, one of my friends registered on a popular matrimonial website and clearly mentioned that she was a transgender. Soon, her profile was scrapped from the site. Why? Just because she was honest about her sexual orientation.”

Celebrating womanhood

In an endeavour to help other friends from the community, Kalki decided to take up the cause and plunged into developing and designing the site. As for the name Thirunangai, it was ideal as it means ‘respectable woman’ in Tamil, she says. Kalki is also the founder of Sahodari Foundation, an NGO that champions equal rights for transgenders and works towards other welfare activities for the community. “I want to shatter the myths associated with transgenders. Although we are not born as women, we biologically feel so and we are attracted to men.” She proudly asserts that they “celebrate the beauty of womanhood”.

Is Mr Right a myth?

To find the perfect match for transgender women, she has put up six profiles on the matrimonial website and has received an overwhelming response. “It’s heart warming,” says Kalki. Till date, the profiles on the site have been flooded with more than 300 proposals from people in the US, the UK, Switzerland, the Middle East, Netherlands and a few South Asian countries. Also, from India, especially Tamil Nadu. To add to this “unprecedented success”, Kalki is also happy that very soon, probably within a month, the process is going to translate into marriage for one of them. “I can already hear the wedding bells!” she beams. 

The selection process to zero down on the perfect match is meticulous. A committee has been instituted for the same, which includes representatives from the transgender community, human rights activists, counsellors and lawyers. The person who has expressed interest in any profile is called for a face-to-face interview with the committee. A lot of research is also conducted on his family, how he earns a livelihood, etc. “These transgender women are looking for a man who is simple and honest,” says Kalki.

Rights & advocacy

The matrimonial website is also a platform to educate transgenders on rights to adoption and marriage.

Says Kalki, “When we are already helping women get married, fighting for their rights is the next logical step.” Looking at all what Kalki is doing makes you wonder where she gets the strength, determination and inspiration to keep going. “Woman warriors inspire me,” she chuckles.

But the chuckle hides the scars of a lifetime of struggle. At 14, she told her mother she felt “different”. Her mother took her to a psychiatrist. Struggling with roles imposed on her became a routine affair. But this didn’t bog her down. Instead, it gave her the courage to think big.

Kalki graduated in English and is now the proud recipient of two PG degrees — an MA in Mass Communication and a Masters in International Relations.

She says, “My education is my strength.” She stresses on its importance in the community. “Transgenders have been reduced to comic characters in movies. We are misunderstood and mocked. I want to change this. I want transgenders to get the same social and legal rights like other human beings.”

In India, there is no such legislation on transsexual people’s marriages.
Kalki aims to work towards pressing the government to make an amendment. She reveals that the community is hopeful to get equal legal rights as the Tamil Nadu Government has shown support by setting up  a welfare board for transgenders.
And what about the man of her dreams? Kalki says, “I am looking for someone who is honest, loving and trustworthy. Although, I do not believe in marriage, I do believe in a companion for life.”

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