- 08 Mar 2018
Transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam addressed the gathering at International Festival of Books and Authors on gender equality, acceptance and the importance of education
An actor, activist entrepreneur and a writer, Kalki Subramaniam is a prominent name in the Indian transgender community, who created milestones for many in the community and worked towards the empowerment of the transgender community, that we know of today. Kalki is the first Indian transgender person to have been featured as a lead in a motion picture and have delivered speeches on gender equality and transgender rights at various avenues in the country and abroad including Harvard University.
Addressing the gathering at the International Festival of Books and Authors, Kalki started off by reciting her own poem about transgenders and dedicated the poem to Thanthai Periyar, as gender equality was one of his main ideology. “I came to Kerala for the first time in 2008 and I saw transgender people migrating to different cities of the country from Kerala due to the lack of awareness about the community among the people of the society. And this was mainly because of how portrayed transgender people in films and media”, said Kalki.
Focusing on the topics like importance of education and acceptance, she said, “If I’m standing here and addressing you, it is because of the education that I have and my family. My family accepted me the way I’m. Though my mother was shattered when I told her I’m transgender, it didn’t come by a surprise to her because growing up I was always effeminate. But she accepted me for who I’m and provided me with good education.”
While this gave a moral boost to people to ask more questions regarding the community, she gave profound answers to the audience. “Transgender people are most often termed as sex workers and it is true that people from the community do sex work. But the main reason behind it is because the society doesn’t provide them with mainstream jobs. There are enormous amount of talent among the people from the community, they lack the platform to showcase it, and when this happens, the question of means of survival is put forth and they choose an option that is easier for them”, she said.
Talking about making the society a transgender friendly place, she stressed on the lack of awareness about the community among the people. She said, “Awareness is the main source of knowledge to anything, thus issues like this should be sensitised and taught in schools because it is easy to mend the younger generation rather than the older generation. In addition to this, the schools should also teach students how to behave with women and how to respect them. Once they are taught that, everything else falls into its place.”
She concluded her talk by saying,
“Gender is not binary, it’s diverse. Let’s make this place colourful.”
Text Credits: Roshan D Image Credits: Krithi International Festival of Books and Authors