Akkai Padmashali: An Epic Tale of Human Determination, Will Power and Mental Strength
It really needs an iron-clad will power to live the life of a transgender. Mocked, ridiculed, harassed, by society for something that is not in the control of an individual. It is regretful that these people often face denial and aggression right from home and their childhood. The problems faced by them range from verbal and physical abuse to isolation and rejection. They are often the victim of exclusion and stigmatization by society. The general attitude towards them is really pathetic. They are not allowed to be part of mainstream life, they are often marginalized. In every walk of life, they face detachment and damnation.
It takes abundant power for transgender to come in terms with their feelings and with who or what they are. The feeling of guilt, shame forces many of them to take the wrong steps. Rather than facing the life of seclusion, they prefer death as their partner. But still, amidst all these traumas and adversities, some of them have come out as a winner. Not only they have made a space for themselves, but they have also shown the world how much capable and exemplary they could be if they are given an equal opportunity as any other human being is given. Akkai Padmashali is one of such inexhaustible flame who has given hope and motivation to the whole transgender group.
The struggles, the pain, and the insults of being what you are………..
Akkai Padmashali’s childhood and life is a reflection of the hardship, struggle, persistence to overcome social norms and social stigma in all public and private spaces. By birth, Akkai was born as a boy and named Jagadeesh. She belonged to a middle-class family in Bangalore, with father in the air force and mother homemaker. From childhood, she led a life of confusion. Her love for female clothes and things was seen as a mental problem by her parents. She was taken to local doctors, traditional healers to find a cure for her condition. She was confused, she was fighting her own fights, and she was coming in terms with what she was or what is different with her! But even after a lot of struggle, she was unable to accept her body or her condition. She tried her best to harmonize herself to the assigned gender identity, but she failed. Feeling destitute and helpless, she tried to take her own life, but something in her stopped her from doing the worst. In one of the interviews, she has expressed the struggle for identity, “Self-identity is a process of understanding gender diversity. What I claim is Gender, what society imposes on one’s gender that is called “Patriarchy Power!”
After four years of silence and fear, she took her brother into confidence and told him the truth. He accepted her as she was and even tried to explain the condition to her parents. But they were reluctant
A Phase of Discovering Your Powers
As time moved on, she faced inequity everywhere. Being in a park, college, bus stand she felt violated. She was in a prison where no one was ready to free her out of her misery. When she used to see other transgender women, she wanted to be like them. During her teenage age, she often watched “eunuchs” near a park in Bangalore on her way to college. This was the beginning of a new merger. A journey of pain and happiness, even after warning from the “eunuchs” not to join them, she joined them. She felt at peace with herself but the situation forced her to become a sex worker. The worst years of her life, where she had to offer herself to men for the sake of money, would still bring tears in her eyes. These years gave her a new perspective for being alive. She didn’t feel lonely anymore she was with others like her. She felt a fusion of emotions like happiness and sadness. “I did not choose to become an anti-social element or unwanted person to the society. My fight was for “Acceptance and Social Inclusion”, for the transformation and the discrimination against biological sex which was with me since birth.”
The beginning of a New Movement
For four years, she was a sex-worker. Ironically these four years transformed Akkai Padmashali as an incarnation of strength. When she was a sex worker, she saw life at its worst. She had witnessed the sexual violence, harassment, hardships faced by others who were like her. She wanted to live for them and fight for their rights. The shy, confused personality was changed into a fighter and an antagonist who wanted to give an identity to the transgender community.
Her career of the human activist was started when she joined Sangama, where she has been fighting battles for transgender persons as well as the sexual minority. She always prefers to be called a woman rather than a Trans – woman.
Her List of Achievements
She has become the torchbearer for the transgender community. She has come a long way from being a fearful, lonely personality to a fearless, warrior of fighting for rights for the transgender community.
• She has founded the organization by name ’Ondede’ (convergence in Kannada), to create awareness about sexual diversity and the right to self-sexual identity.
• She was invited to speak about the legal rights of sexual minorities in the International Bar Association conference held in Tokyo un 2014.
• She was invited by the President to attend the Chief Justice of India’s Swearing in ceremony.
• She is the first Indian transgender woman to get a driving license with her gender stated as Female.
• When former US President Barack Obama came to visit India, Akkai was the first Trans woman to be invited to be part of the Town Hall.
• She is the first transgender person in Karnataka to register her marriage with her longtime partner Vasudev, a trans man, and a noted transgender activist.
Akkai Padmashali is proud of her identity; she has pride in her being a male to female transgender. She works hard with her team to bring this community to mainstream life and get accepted by society as they are. Her struggles are yet not over but she has given a new vision to others like her.
A big salute to her and her team!!!