'My driver's license refers to me as woman who was man'

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Born as Doraisamy, the youngest son of a lorry driver from Namakkal in Tamil Nadu's Salem district, she went for a discreet sex change surgery in her early twenties and rechristened herself as Revathi.

On the grounds of being a transgender, the driving licence inspector had initially refused to accept her application and had agreed to do the needful only after Revathi agreed to bribe him.

"To get my licence under the name of Revathi, I had to go through all this. It was exhausting, and worse, what ought to have cost me a hundred fifty rupees set me back by two thousand rupees," she says.
Even to get the legitimate share of her father's property, she had to sign her name as Doraisamy.

However, after a prolonged battle for gender identity, her ration card and passport now recognises her to be a woman.

Encountering brutality every step of the way, the third gender people find it hard to gain employment as they struggle for a social and economic existence.

"Why, a crippled person, a blind person - even they attract pity and people help them. If someone has experienced physical hurt, they are cared for both by the family and by the outsiders who come to know of it. But we - we are not considered human," says Revathi.

Even as she went to live with the hijra community, she kept going back to her roots in the village, living a life caught between the two worlds.

"If you are a hijra and poor, you must expect to be abused and humiliated. It is best I be with others like me, only that would ensure me of dignity," says the author.

Offering a rare peek into the complex and closed community of hijras, she says that people from the sexual minorities group have no choice but to get involved in sex work or 'begging'.

After being years into prostitution, Revathi is now living a dignified life as an activist with 'Sangama', a sexual minorities forum.

Her longing for true love, though remains an unfulfilled dream even as she turns 42.

"I always felt like a woman inside, but people regard me as a hijra. And who wants to marry a hijra in our society. So many years have passed with dreams of marriage, but now I don't think of these things at all," she said over phone from Bangalore.

Her marriage with a co-activist broke off after few months, while her another love interest left after realising her sexuality.

 
Sexuality Identification System