I receently received an email from Helen, who lives in India and inquired how she could pursue living a "real life" as she calls it, in India. I hve no doubts that living as a transgender woman is easier in some places than others, yet surprisingly everyplace has it's up and downsides.
Coming out in New York City back in 1999, afterskulking around in the shadows of the streets in the closet for 20 years, was certainly a breathe of fresh air - I had been suffocating in that closet. For the most part I'd say my experience with the general public wass mostly a positive one: I encountered only a few confrontations with fear induced individuals that somehow felt they could catch what I had if they got too close.
Being in India since 2012 I've seen many transgender woman here, known most more commonly as "hijra". Usually I encounter them walking the streets, or going car to car at stoplights asking for handouts inxchange for a good luck touch. They are on the one hand ignored on the street, then hired to perform at weddings and considered a good luck omen in that setting.
Transgender women here are often forced out of their families and left to find whatever way they can to survive. Many, according to Kalki Subramanian, an activist and media entrepreneur, join other transgendered women who, by long tradition in South India, form a familial structure under a "mother" figure. To forge a new identity many take on female names and often conceal their surnames as a safeguard against harassment.
But getting to Helen's question "how can tg live real life being feminine?", I believe that the answer starts with education. Many in India shy
away from the transgender woman just as they -- and people in many different countries -- shy away from any that are uneducated, unemployed, and looking for handouts.
In recent years there have been advances by transgender women in India, and there is even a Gay & Transgender Film Festival. The transgender woman Rose, a talk show host, rocketed to stardom in India -- the story was even picked up in the Washington Post.
When you read success stories about people like Rose, Kalki, journalist Christy Raj, and then in 2012 when the Karnataka high court set an example of affirmative action, hiring a 27-year old transgender, it becomes more apparent that it is not ones' transgender condition that is the roadblock, though a hurdle it may be, it is more other circumstqances that can make the road tough. And I beleive that with education, a good sense of self-awareness and self-esteem, that there is nothing that we cannot overcome. We wimply have to see the world as it is, and not as we want it to be, be or get prepared to win, and then be victorious where we stand.