Business Standard

By tying the knot, transgenders assert freedom to love


Press Trust of India Raipur
Eight years ago, Saloni, a transgender woman, met Gulam Nabi Ansari and the two became friends.
They fell in love and continued their relationship despite facing opposition from their respective families and ridicule from society.
The couple forgot all their tribulations Saturday when they tied the knot at a mass wedding for transgenders here.
"If you want something from the bottom of your heart, the entire universe conspires to get it for you," Saloni said, evoking a line from Shahrukh Khan-starrer "Om Shanti Om".
Saloni (33) was among 15 trans-women who got married at the function, said to be the first such event for the transgender community in the country.
It was conceived by Raipur-based transgender and social activist Vidya Rajput and her team.
Both Saloni and Gulam hail from Nagpur in Maharashtra.
"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," they told PTI.
In 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as a "third gender" and ensured that they enjoy constitutional rights and freedom, following which the couple decided to live 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 toowants love and support and has the right to live a married life," she said.
"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.
Gulam (28) said they had never imagined that their dream will come true in Raipur, 300 km from Nagpur.
The story of Ishika, a trans-woman from Raipur, is slight different, as she was accepted by her in-laws when her boyfriend Pankaj Nagwani told about their relationship to his parents.
"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.
It was a festival-like atmosphere at Pujari Park Marriage Palace here where the weddings took place as per Hindu traditions.
The marriage procession was taken out from Ambedkar Bhawan in Civil Lines to Pujari Park.
Transgenders suffer loneliness and a kind of social boycott, Rajput said.
"Therefore, we decided to organise mass marriage for transgenders to send a message to people that like other citizens we also have the right to be loved and get married," she said.
"On Valentine's day this year, we met transgenders who were in relationship with men but had not got married. We also contacted such couples from other states," Rajput added.
Of the 15 couples who tied the knot, seven were from Chhattisgarh, two each from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, and one each from Maharashtra and West Bengal.

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First Published: Mar 30 2019 | 10:25 PM IST

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