Hijras are arrived souls: transgender activist

Hijras are arrived souls: transgender activist

Transgender activist and author Laxmi Narayan Tripathi wears her attitude and feminism quite literally on her sleeve. While her road to discovering an identity may have been marred by societal pressure, she is ready to pave the way for others who wish to tread on the same path.
At the fifth edition of Kalam Bengaluru, which was held in the city recently, Laxmi shared her experiences and spoke at length about what made her write a book. Speaking at the event, Laxmi began by explaining the meaning of ‘hijra’- which comes from the Persian word ‘hijar’ meaning a person who has left his tribe. Hijras, she explained, are the arrived souls who have discovered the truth within themselves.

She further shared that the Indian hijra community is one of the oldest ethnic transgender communities. After becoming the Acharya Mahamandaleshwar, life for her has not been easy, she says as she has been working for the members of her community now. A person is called Mahamandaleshwar after they have been elevated by their peers to the highest level of traditional Hindu spiritual guardianship.

Sharing her experience, Laxmi says, “I was always very different. When my teachers and people would tell me not to wear my choice of clothes, I walked away thinking that they were jealous of me.” She says that she has been through her share of hardships and has emerged strong. She feels that women should love and respect themselves. “I love myself and women should learn the art to love themselves. You have to be comfortable in your own skin,” she says.

If there’s one thing that really bothers Laxmi, it is her mother’s health. “I had to start working early in life to take care of my mother and pay her hospital bills,” she says.
About her decision to author a book, she says, “I never planned to become an author, it was a coincidence. This book has its own history and I can’t thank Vaishali Raode enough for her help.”

Laxmi had a word of advice for parents of transgender children to embrace and support them. The session was moderated by Sourav Roy, a writer, poet and translator.