This episode of Yarivaru Season 3 features Shruti, a transgender person from Bangalore.
When she was just a student in the second grade, Shruti realised that she did not connect to her assigned gender. She faced a lot of bullying and ragging during her school and college life, with even her immediate family members and friends refusing to acknowledge her. They used to psychologically trouble Shruti a lot by constantly commenting on her life and disrespecting her character. Shruti’s father was an adamant man who refused to change his thoughts about his daughter even as she was changing in front of his eyes.
Shruti studied till the 8th standard in school. This was the period when her lecturer sexually harassed her, which forced Shruti to stop her schooling and leave everything behind in Bangalore. She decided to shift to Mumbai, where she lived for three years and worked as a sex worker to earn money. During this period, she faced a lot of difficulties; to survive in Mumbai is tough and her sense of self took a beating in Mumbai.
Shruti recalls her Mumbai days as the worst days of her life. “Today, the situation has changed and the transgenders living in Mumbai will not relate to the situations I faced. When I was in Mumbai, some of my relatives got to know about the work I was doing and how I was surviving. My parents and relatives forced me to leave Mumbai and return to Bangalore. So, I did, and completed my studies till the tenth standard. My family made me approach a counselor. No one was ready to understand me and my situation! I lived at home for six years.”
For five years, Shruti worked in an organisation dedicated to transgender persons. She felt very happy as she realised that there are people who respect transgender persons as well and that transgender persons can have their own way of living. “But we do face financial issues and difficulties, like while searching for a flat. Sometimes, 85% of our salaries go into paying the flat’s rent.”
When Shruti started working and earning by herself, her parents and family members started showing her respect and were happy for her. Shruti has worked in three organisations so far, namely Sangama/Samara, TG Voices of India, and Bhayana TGTAL. All these organisations are community-based and she has huge respect for them. Shruti’s parents have also accepted her and it has been two years that she has been living with her family again. “This is the first time that it truly feels like I am at home.”
Shruti also speaks about how the government has taken steps for the community’s welfare and how transgender persons don’t have to go on strikes for their rights anymore. Even the society has changed their views towards them. She just wants everyone to be treated like human beings – even transgender persons have likes and dislikes, and they also have all the rights to live the way they want to.