Thirty year old Shree Ghatak Muhuri married childhood sweetheart, Sanjay Muhuri. So, what is the big deal here? Everybody gets married at some point.
Thirty year old Shree is not your regular definition of ‘everybody’. Shree is the first transgender woman to have gotten legally married in India.
The First Legal Transgender Wedding
This revolutionary marriage happened in Kolkata. Shree was attracted to Sanjay since the confusing age of 14, but being essentially a woman trapped in a man’s body, things were not so easy for her.
Ever since she could remember, she had been subjected to a lot of ridicule and social ostracization, just because she was different.
Sanjay did not have it easy either. He was ridiculed for being in love with a girl who had mixed sexual identities or according to some, no identity at all. Needless to say, both the families were very much averse to the idea of them getting married.
Gender Transformation- Is It The Only Way?
However, luckily for the couple, their families breathed easy once Shree had undergone her surgery and physically transformed herself into a woman, someone that she always was inside. However, Shree remains very secretive about certain aspects of her life, probably owing to her past experiences.
She refuses to disclose her birth name and prefers to be identified as the woman, Shree. She insists that this is the only identity she has ever truly had.
The Discrimination Transgenders face In India
The Honorable Supreme Court of India has legalized an identity for the third gender long back. It is extremely unfortunate that such people are still subject to a lot of apartheid.
The 2011 census reveals that there are about 4.9 lakh transgenders in which 55,000 are in the 0-6 age group. This is no small number. However, the average literacy rates among transgenders is only 46% which is a stark contrast to the national average literacy rate of 76%.
Why this disparity? This is a question we, the apparently ‘normal’ people should be asking ourselves. I used the term ‘normal’ because many a times, have I heard transgenders being referred to as abnormal, even within my own social circle.
Some people seem to think that a trans is very close to trash, and is fit for begging on trains and traffic signals only.
And therein, lies the beauty of Shree marrying Sanjay. I hope this marriage in Kolkata comes across as a resounding slap to people harboring the above mentioned school of thought. Kolkata and West Bengal house about 6% of the Indian transgender population which comes close to a whooping 30,000 count.
Kolkata has always been warmly accommodating to anybody who comes knocking at her door and the first ever trans marriage to be taking place here just about cements her congeniality.
Incidentally, Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the first transgender college principle in India, also happens to be holding office in Kolkata. And of course, the celebrated Rituparno Ghosh needs no description. Lets all hope Kolkata continues her legacy of almost accommodating ‘the different’ as one of her own but more importantly, lets hope that some of the more rigid states take up this example.
Positive news comes up from Tamil Nadu when we think of Padmini Prakash, the first transgender newsreader in India. Each of the names here and so many others form a source of inspiration to each of those 4.9 lakh transgenders in our country.
More importantly, these names should serve as an eye opener to us ‘normal’ people. It is about time some of us understood that a person is not defined by the presence or absence of one or both the penis and vagina.
Meanwhile, we should remember that who we are born as is not our choice, but who we become is surely our choice.