The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story by A. Revathi

I only recently came across this book when Bindu added it to her ‘to-read’ books in Goodreads. Luckily for me, it was available in my library. Normally, most of the really good books aren’t available there- so, I was quite happy. Although I wasn’t sure that the book itself would be something that I would enjoy but I was curious, to be honest.

HijraLifeStory

Hijras have always inspired fear and a bit of apprehension in me since I was a child. For some reason, they always made me uncomfortable, as long as I can remember. This time, after years of being away from India, they invoked the same sense of apprehension if they confronted me on the roads. Most of the time, I would be in an auto, and would just hand over money. This book, I hoped would tell more about their life and the reason why they do what they do.

The book is Revathi’s autobiography. Revathi was born into a working class family in Tamil Nadu. The youngest of three brothers, she was born as Doraisamy. From a very young age, she enjoyed the tasks that were assigned her sister more than her brothers. She longed to be a girl as long back as she remembers. She feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body. All she wanted was to be a woman, to be considered a woman by society. Slowly, getting more and more aware of herself, she meets up with others like her. Her quest to be a woman leads her to a totally different life. A life where she is taunted for her state of being, where she is not accepted by her birth family, and yet she finds a family of her own. She runs away to Delhi in search of a life where she can be herself. All is not rosy there either. She faces trouble and violence of all sorts.

All she wants is to live a life being true to herself, with a little dignity, to be accepted for what she is but that itself seems like a tall order.

The book is a difficult read. It is an honest autobiography which depicts life as a hijra in India. A community that is feared, ridiculed and ill-treated in so many ways. What can a person do when everything seems to be stacked against them. Being considered freaks, unable to gain acceptability in society like the rest of us do, just because they are born in a way that is considered abnormal. It is a peek into lives of our sexual minorities who have struggled so hard to gain acceptance, ill-treated by society, by the law enforcers,shackled by our archaic laws, looked down by their own families, no means of earning a living… Is it a wonder that they have to resort to all sorts of things to keep themselves alive.

Reading this book opened my eyes to things which I knew about only vaguely. The life that they are forced to lead, because of the way our society functions. It just makes me hope that things do change for the better for this community. The life that a lot of them lead is so tragic. It made me feel very helpless.

As I said, it is no easy read. It is sad, tragic and heart-breaking. Having said that it does give an insight to life as a Hijra in India.

PS: Does anyone know how it is for transgenders in other countries?

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23 thoughts on “The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story by A. Revathi

  1. Was discussing about this with a friend just yesterday. How they are forced to trip us into fear because we as a society are not accepting them at all 😦 I have read that they have jobs reserved in banks etc.. for them in a few other nations!

    • And also people who are tricking us into believing they are hijras and make money 😦 I so wish we as a society give them a better place so that all these things can be resolved.

      • Yes, that too. As you said, the only way forward is for us as a society to treat them with dignity and give them a chance to live their life the way the want to.

    • So true. They don’t really have much options, sadly. It was so sad to read how they had to go to all extents to earn some money. The way we rob them of a chance to lead a dignified life..

  2. I so echo when ur sentiment of being uncomfortable around them almost to the point of being scared! But yea come to think of it what options do they have to earn a livlihood???

  3. I can imagine about the book, have you seen that movie Bol? It’s a Pakistani movie and a part of it depicts a life of a transgender, and it is such a heartening film to see.

    I haven’t watched it, OHW. Goes on my list.

    But I have seen some a different story too, when I got married a group of Hijaras came to my inlaws place to congratulate and give us their blessings ( it is considered auspicious by some of the family). They danced and talked, and one young girl handed me her visiting card, introducing herself in proper English, she was a graduate from Delhi and could have gotta job and what we call a normal life. I am pretty sure she was a normal female and not a transgender but she chose this life, kind of chose this as a career to have better earning prospects.

    Strange but true.

    Oh dear! But if she weren’t a true transgender, do they allow her to do this work? I thought they had rules to that effect..

  4. I would love to read this book, because it is about something that has always mystified, scared and intrigued me. That said, I know it would definitely be a sad read. Well, I will pick this one up sometime. I want to.

    Same here. I picked it up, wondering how I would find it, but yet, curious enough to go for it.

    Have you read Nalini Jameela’s The Autobiography of a Sex Worker? I think you will enjoy that, too. I have had the book with me forever – don’t seem to get around to reading it.

    No, I haven’t. That goes on my list too. So many books I read are reco-ed by you, TGND.

  5. I remember see a documentary about the Hijras on Discovery. It was sad……!

    It’s a sad and difficult life..

    Like Swaram said, I have also read about the transgenders being hired by the banks!

    That is so good, isn’t it? Allowing them to live with dignity.

  6. I remember reading an autobiography of a pros but couldnot finish it because I was unable to take it…..skipping this one too…not that I don’t feel for them but I don’t like sad books!! 😦

  7. Have bookmarked it! Will definitely check it out!
    This is one community that truly scares me.
    Recently they came to our new office and demanded Rs 5000! Husband refused and they threatened to remove their clothes!! It was shocking and scary! Had to pay them 2000 early in the morning! 😐

  8. The plight of transgenders in india is well known & documented. There is this group of volunteers of ‘Anam Prem’ who have been trying to get the ‘Main Stream society’ educated & accept them as Humans. As part of the initiative families are encouraged to invite members of the hijra community into their houses for Tea or lunch. they have been doing this for the past 8 years. I feel it is a good initiative which is growing. The best part is ‘Anam Prem” is not a trust or an organization but just a group of people who want to make an difference in whatever way they can. All Initiatives of this group is self funded by the volunteers. http://www.indianexpress.com/assembly-elections/news/dancing-to-the-future/1040913/2

  9. Efforts are being made by some individuals and organizations to help them get into the mainstream. Anam Prem is a group which as the name suggests believes by spreading love, life will be much better for everybody. As a part of their activity they also conduct a family meet programme whereby they introduce Hijra’s to a family so that both the parties can take care of their apprehension, understand each other and thereby help create greater acceptance for Hijra’s in the society. Although these activity are happening at a small scale presently but still over the years more people are getting involved.
    As part of this initiative and also to encourage the transgenders to join the main stream they have organized an event, the first of its kind – Trans Empowerment Mela, is a part of ‘Anandi Anand Gade’, a yearly initiative of Love for Hijra community by Anam Prem. More on it at
    https://www.facebook.com/events/474107529466267/

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