Autobiographies of transgender people are a rich source of literature as their life and struggles are narrated in the first person. It is they who are in charge of telling their own story here, and shaping the narrative of their lives. Such books are also first-hand accounts of the non-alignment that exists between the biological sex and prescribed gender roles for trans people. The narratives also offer an insight into the discrimination that they have faced from their biological family and the society at large. So if you want to understand the discrimination and challenges that the transgender community faces in India, there is no better way to do that than reading an autobiography of a trans person. But then the question arises, where does one start?
To help you figure that out, we have made a list of autobiographies of transgender people who not only fought the battle for their identity but carved a life of dignity for themselves.
I am Vidya
I am Vidya by Living Smile Vidya is a story of extraordinary courage and perseverance. Born as Saravanan, she felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. Originally written in Tamil, the book has been translated into English. Hailing from a Dalit community, her narrative adds to the trans-Dalit narrative where their lives are marked by the dual discrimination on basis of caste and gender identity.
In this breakthrough narrative, Vidya emerges to become the first trans woman whose gender identity was reflected in her passport. In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Charles Wallace scholarship and studied theatre in the United Kingdom. Today she is an activist for transgender person’s rights and an artist. The Kannada film ">Naanu Avanalla Avalu is based on her autobiography.
The Truth About me
Born as Doraiswamy, The Truth About Me by A Revathi documents the journey of gender dysphoria and finally finding one’s own identity. Revathi in the book documents her non-alignment with gender and sex. The book graphically depicts accounts of violence that she faced from her biological family because of her effeminate ways.
It also sheds light upon the guru-chela system that exists among the transgender communities. This is the first part of the two-part autobiography. Originally written in Tamil, it has been translated into English to reach a wider audience.
A Life in Trans Activism
A Life in Trans Activism by A Revathi is the second part of a two-part autobiography. This book documents the journey of her trans-activism. It is once again rich in accounts of discrimination that she continues to face from educational and state institutions. This is a story about continuing to face discrimination but striving to live with dignity.
A Gift of Goddess Lakshmi
A Gift of Goddess Lakshmi by Manabi Bandyopadhyay captures Somnath's journey of becoming Manabi. Hailing from West Bengal, Manabi has many firsts to her credit. She became the first transgender person in this country to get a PhD. She also became the first transgender person to be the principal of any educational institution.
Me Hijra, Me Laxmi by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
Born in Thane, Maharashtra, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is both famous and criticized in equal measure. However, like every transgender person narrative, this holds some important insights for our understanding of gender and sex. The first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific at the United Nations, Tripathi has been the face of the transgender community in many important and influential spaces. This book sheds light upon the journey of being a transperson when one hails from a background of social privilege.
Priyanka Chakrabarty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author's own.