Even in twenty-first century India, the society is strictly patriarchal with the wave of feminism hitting only once or twice. The hegemony of the gender starts with its nomenclature itself, where men are regarded as the first gender, women as second and trans-genders as third. Even though India is a home to more than 50 lakh unregistered Trans genders, they are still marginalized. 90%of them have been denied a job and hence they are forced to beg or become a sex worker and live a life of utter disgrace. Challenging these stereotypes at every step and emerging like a warrior is Gauri Sawant.
Gauri Sawant is a transgender activist who was the first Indian transgender to move the court for her rights in 2014. She filed a petition for Trans-genders to be accepted as the citizens of the Indian community and even won. She can communicate in almost every vernacular language. She has never said that anything that she has ever wanted was easy for her to get but the fight was necessary. Born as Ganesh, Gauri has suffered through gender dysphoria (is a distress a person feels because of the mismatch between his chosen gender and the sex assigned to them at birth) at a very young age and hence was forced to run away from her house at the age of nine, into a world that was completely unknown to her. Her mother died when she was five and his father who was a policeman had been ashamed all his life and hence Gauri joined the ‘Humsafar’ organization only because she found acceptance there. However, her challenges were not going to stop there as life had a lot in store for her.
Topping the list of female feticide with 2332 cases per day on average, Indian families have never been in favor of having a girl child. Like killing so many of them even before they are born wasn’t enough, India also reports that 70% of its women citizens are victims of violence either sexual or emotional or both. Globally, approximately 117 million girls go missing every year because of sex selective abortions but Gauri on the hand was determined to subvert this stereotype. She adopted a five year old baby girl named Gayatri who is the biological daughter of a sex worker, another marginalized and out casted section of the society. It is not like that she does not live in a constant fear of her daughter’s safety but that never stops her from fulfilling her responsibilities. She also provided sex education to Gayatri which no heteronormative family does for their child. Gauri has till now adopted seven children all of which are biological off springs of sex workers. But she did not stop there as well.
When the topic of HIV/AIDS had been silenced by the so called flag bearers of responsibilities, men, it was Gauri who brought the issue into light. Not even in heteronormative families is the concern around STDs openly discussed, but Gauri did not shy away. She opened an NGO named ‘Sakhi Char Chowghi’, which works with the sex workers of Kamathipura, the biggest red light area in India with almost 68%. The NGO aims at educating the sex workers about STDs and providing the victims of HIV/AIDS with nutritious meals. Not only does it aim to provide better life to the sex workers but also to their children. She is a firm believer that a child of a sex worker need not do the same work and hence she rescues those children. Her another project ‘aaji ka ghar’, aims at uniting these children and also the young trans-genders who are suffering from gender dysphoria, with the elder trans-genders who can provide them with the morally correct and loved environment. This works both ways as the Trans people get children and children get parents.
Gauri Sawant is like the king Midas, everything she invests herself in, she makes it useful. She runs four NGOs at present, all of which help the marginalized i.e. the sex workers or the Trans genders. Also she is very humble and celebrates her birthday with the orphans. She is also an animal lover. Even though she gained much popularity from the Vicks advertisement, her philanthropic nature did not let her turn away from her community even then. She does not want anyone’s sympathy but everyone’s respect and equality. She knows why everyone looks at them as if they are outsiders but she also believes that that perspective needs to change.
By Jyotsna Gupta, Ghaziabad