The Voice of an Indian Trans Woman: a Hijra Autobiography

Regiane Corrêa de Oliveira Ramos

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to raise awareness of the humanity of hijras through their autobiographies. The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story (2015) by A. Revathi will shed light on transsexuality in India. The hijra literature in English is gaining space, albeit small, in the literary milieu with its main character, a trans woman, who narrates her story challenging the heteronormative world. Not bending to gender norms, Revathi sought her place in the world, becoming not only a hijra, but also a political agent in her community. Her writing/telling reveals the bruises and wounds of a body violated by a deeply hierarchical society and her activism evidences that trans people are not passive recipients of forces acting upon their lives. They deploy agency in a variety of ways showing how their lives are located at the intersection of caste, class and patriarchies. These structures along with heteronormativity not only oppress them but also make them invisible under the heterosexual, family and reproductive model. In order to understand the hijras communities, it is important to analyze this through the intersectionality of social markers--gender, sexuality, class, caste, generation, region, religion, kinship and etc--interacting them at multiple and often simultaneous levels (Reddy 2005). Moreover, one must think of the terms izzat (honour) and asli (authenticity) that permeate Indian culture.

Keywords

Transsexuality; hijra literature; Indian culture, gender violence

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