On Saturday, 15 couples from the transgender community got married in a mass wedding ceremony in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. It was the first time that such an event was organised in the country which witnessed so many people from the transgender community get hitched. The event was conceived by a Raipur-based transgender and social activist Vidya Rajput and her team.

The first couple on the stage was Ghulam Nabi Ansari and Saloni Ansari from Maharashtra. Saloni, 33, a transgender woman, met Ghulam eight years ago and the two fell in love. Amidst the controversies surrounding transgender community and marriage, deceived by the society and families, they continued their relationship despite the opposition. The couple got hitched on Saturday. “If you want something from the bottom of your heart, the entire universe conspires to get it for you,” Saloni said to Hindustan Times.

“We had decided to keep our relationship secret initially. When we told about it to our families, they did not accept it, which is a common problem for transgenders,” she told PTI.

In 2014, when the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as a “third gender” ensuring their constitutional rights and freedom, the couple decided to live-in together, openly.

“We kept visiting our families during festivals and other occasions and eventually persuaded them to accept our relationship. It was very difficult to make them understand our relationship,” said Saloni.

“Like others, a transgender too wants love and support and has the right to live a married life,” she claimed.

“We tried to get married many times before this, but could not. When we heard about this event, we immediately contacted the organisers,” she said.

Ishika, another trans-woman from Raipur, shared Pankaj’s (her fiancee) family has accepted their relationship wholeheartedly. “I have already accepted Ishika as my daughter-in-law. I don’t care about people who used to mock my son over his relationship,” said Radha, Pankaj’s mother.

Siddharth, who is a member of Maati, an organisation that fights for LGBTQ rights in Chhattisgarh, told Indian Express, “Work has been done on education and livelihood, but this was something that we felt needed to happen. Thus far, for transgender people, the only social acceptance was sexual. But it needed to go beyond that. So just under a year ago, we began thinking of this, and looked for ways to make it happen, especially after the 377 judgment.”

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“We could not arrange for all hundred, so some vetting had to be done. We spoke and counselled each couple. The men getting married today are extraordinarily brave, and have faced brickbats from their families for being in love with someone who doesn’t have social acceptability. The 15 couples were decided based on their compatibility and other factors. Today, what is extremely beautiful to watch is that the families are here too. I cannot believe this day has come,” he added.

The producer of Hansa, a film on transgender rights, Suresh Sharma, financed the mass wedding.

Feature Image Credit: Indian Express

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