Miss Trans Queen India: Journeys of two participants

Miss Trans Queen India: Journeys of two participants

Madhuri, one of the contestants of the Miss Trans Queen India contest.

What are the careers where you will find a transgender person? Begging and prostitution may be the first thoughts that occur to many people.

Silk and Madhuri want to tell you that this perception is wrong and that transgenders are just like everyone else.

Seated at a rented home in Ejipura, Bengaluru, they narrated their long roads to participation in the Miss Trans Queen India 2018 in Mumbai in the first week of October. They represent Karnataka in the national contest, from where the winner will be selected for the upcoming Miss International Queen 2019 contest in Thailand.

I wanted to be a teacher, but…

Switching between English, Kannada and Hindi - which was her favourite subject during school - Silk, who hails from Kodagu, talked about the ordeal of having a feminine character in childhood.

“I had this [feminine] feeling during my childhood. But I never told anyone because I thought I was the only person like this,” said Silk. “I love my family more than anything else. I never wanted to hurt them. So I did not tell them about my feelings. That may be a mistake I made.”

She loves teaching. “When I was in 7th Standard, I told my friends that I will act as a teacher, you all be my kids. They reverted asking what they shall call me - sir or teacher. My dream ended there.”

She says she tried to ‘act like a boy’, which was never successful.

Silk, who always loved to wear makeup and dress like a woman, is a professional beautician now.

Dance was my passion

Madhuri Khan was lucky compared to Silk in that she could tell her family that she wanted to become a dancer when she was just 15, and she then accomplished her dream. Things weren’t easy, however, for Madhuri when she jumped into a water tank due to the ‘care of overenthusiastic neighbours’. “They [neighbours] told my parents, 10 years back, about my makeup and dress and they [parents] couldn’t bear it.”

Madhuri started to dress up like a woman when she was seven years old.

“I want to show my parents that I am not doing anything wrong.”

Madhuri dreams of starting a dance class for children and others in the community. “It is open for all. But I want more community members to join.”

Bengaluru is home

This city is bread and butter for Silk. However, things weren’t easy for a village girl. “Neighbours initially wanted me to move to Hebbal where transgenders are normally seen,” said Silk. "It is really tough for a transgender to find a rented house in Bengaluru. Even if they could find a home, a high deposit amount and surveillance will follow."

“Boys near here used to knock the door at midnight to ask if I need alcohol or a smoke. I suffered a lot in the beginning.”

But things did get better. “Yesterday was my birthday. All my neighbours came here and we celebrated. They all love me now. We are like a family,” Silk said. “Once they hated me. Now they support a lot. One of my neighbours calls me MLA of Ejipura [laughing].”

Soon after she reached Bengaluru four years ago, Silk met a psychiatrist who gave her the strength to assert her identity.

Their projects

The participants of Miss Trans Queen India have to submit a project report ahead of the event. Madhuri met transgender people in the city and had discussions about their identity. “We have a pehchan (the project title). We all can do a lot more for ourselves and society. I want to tell society that we also live here.”

Silk also met schoolchildren to explain to them about transgender people. “I told kids my own story," she said. "The consultation about gender issues should start at school. It will help them to chase their dream. No one should drop the plan to become a teacher because someone bullied them.”

Silk also met members of the community to urge them to learn career skills and stay away from begging and prostitution. “When I met them, they all wanted to participate in the fashion show. I told them that I will inform all of them the next time.”

“Education is really important for us. It should be added with skill training - a vocational course. Something like tailoring or carpentry. That will help us to stand on our own legs.”

Many transgenders in the city are dropouts from schools due to various reasons. Bullying is a common reason. A lack of education and training leaves them with few career options.

The show

Founded in 2017 by Reena Rai under ‘Suhani Dream Catchers’, this second edition of the programme will be held on Oct. 5, 6 and 7 in Mumbai. The contest has several rounds that include a bikini round and representation of state culture. The finale will be on Oct. 7.

The Miss International Queen is an annual show that has been held in Pattaya, Thailand since 2004. Arisha Rani from India was the first runner-up of the first Miss International Queen.

Getting ready

The auditions were unplanned for both Silk and Madhuri. “My friend told me about the audition. I got the number of Reena Rai (who is the founder of the show) and spoke to her. I was informed that I got selected as I sent her my photo, resume and the psychiatrist’s certificate,” said Madhuri.

Silk had no intention of participating. All she wanted was to meet Reena Rai when she headed to Lalit Ashok Hotel for the audition. “They asked me to do a ramp walk and all and later got a message that I am selected.”

Excited participants are in the final stages of preparation for the show in Mumbai. “We've already become celebrities in our local area,” said Madhuri.

Silk is wearing a Kodagu sari while Madhuri chose Shavara. “Shavara is originally from Lucknow. It is popular among Muslims. As we know, Bengaluru is a multicultural city,” said Madhuri.

Their names

Transgenders also get to choose to go by different names.

Silk said: “I love Vidya Balan. I always imitate her, except the diet [laughing]. ‘Dirty Picture’ was released when I decided to tell the society that I am a woman. Silk is a bold lady. So I decided to choose Silk.” She adds that she is not the Silk who committed suicide. “I am here to live.”

Madhuri loves Madhuri Dixit and her dancing. So she didn't have to think twice about a name. 

Their background

Both Silk and Madhuri are from Muslim families. “We pray like Muslim women. Though I don’t go to mosque regularly, I love to go to Madiwala Darga,” Silk said. “I don’t care what others in our religion say about us. We pray to our God. Hum Allah ko dua kar hain.”

Silk prays to Allah that children like them will not be born. “Why would others suffer? Let this end with us,” said Silk.

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