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“Madurai safest place in State for transgender”

in INDIA, 21/12/2012

Two persons dressed in gaudy clothes walk up the pavement, unnoticed by the passersby, along the Kuruvikkaran Salai in Madurai in the evening. They stop at the first shop; clap their hands in a wavy fashion and get a en-rupee note in return. Even before one knows from where the claps came, the duo steps into another shop to repeat the routine. This is how these people, whose gender is identified by their dress and masculine voice, earn a living.

On the other end of the city, a group of women is huddled into a small room, preparing a petition in a computer while a few others in male attire prepare lunch. Among them is a person who was ten years old when he realised that he will not lead a normal life like his classmates in the co-educational school located in Sivaganga district. It was the time when the man in charge of the institution started to abuse him repeatedly. He even thought of suicide as the only option to escape from misery. A decade later, Brinda, after transformation as transgender, is not ambiguous about her gender. The rest of her life is now dedicated for the uplift and well being of the members of her gender.

She is one among the scores of transgender people who visit the home on the first floor of a building on Nattanmai Kasturi Rengayyar Lane off Mahal Vadampokki Street. Disowned by their parents and relatives and driven to the fringes by the society, this unique population of Madurai finds the Bharathi Kannamma Trust, run by their ‘mother’ Bharathi Kannamma, a boon. About 300 transgender people live in the city, according to Bharathi Kannamma.

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