You must have felt irritated by the sound of those claps in the local trains, at the red light or at the nukkad - the despair in their eyes begging for money and their hands on your head to give you 'duaa' (blessings). You must have been scared with their unwanted appearances at your doorstep on so many occasions. You must have sensed some fear when you were a kid that they might take you away. HAVEN'T YOU?
But why? Because you never bothered to hear their story and their pain behind those claps. Gauri Sawant is one of them. The trans mommy. You must have seen her in an advertisement by Vicks. Not all heroes wear capes. One of the people I admire the most, Gauri Sawant is no way less than a hero.
Why? You ask.
Why not? I say.
From Ganesh to Gauri, she has been through several ups and downs. Born as a boy child, Ganesh realized at the age of 8 or 9 that he isn't a boy. When once asked by his relative that what do you want to be when you grow up? Her reply was," I want to be a mother". And as usual, everyone laughed and like a typical Indian relative told her/Ganesh that boys can't be a mother (as if only a uterus is the definition of being a mother).
"This other time, when I called him for some work, my 'hello' itself was different, so he told me, ‘Kya hijre jaisa baat karta hai’ (why do you talk like a eunuch?) So, I never answered the phone when he would call," she recalled in one of her interviews.
Living without her mother who passed away when she was just at the age of 5 and not being accepted by the members of her own family, one day she decided to run away from her place with 60 bucks in her pocket. She recalled in one of her interviews,"I had 60 bucks, and knew that a train comes from Chinchwaad that passes through Pune and drops us to Dadar in Mumbai. I went to Siddhivinayak as it was Tuesday, and had the two laddoos I got for prasad as lunch, and in the evening, I had ragda patties at Dadar station. I couldn't eat that, and the boy who served me water brought the glass with his finger inside it, and I couldn't drink that! There was a tap somewhere in a canteen I found, with rice and food stuck to it, which I drank from,".
She had a friend, a gay-turned-trans sex worker, who agreed to put her up for three or four days who later introduced her to Humsafar Trust (one of the oldest LGBTQ organizations in India).
a woman in relation to her child or children.
bring up (a child) with care and affection.
give birth to.
Correction: You don't need a uterus to be a mother. Giving birth doesn't make you complete your motherhood. I mean she didn't keep Gayatri in her womb for 9 months.
Gauri used to work with a lot of people in Trusts and NGOs, and it was one of her main tasks to spread awareness about STDs and encourage sex workers to get tested. One of them was Gayatri's birth-mother, an HIV positivesex worker. Gayatri was never breast-fed, and the disease eventually claimed her birth mother's life, when Gayatri was five. After her passing, there was the talk of selling Gayatri off for sex workin Sonagachi, which fell on the ears of Gauri. She couldn't stop herself but went on to save that little vulnerable and helpless child.
Gayatri taught her mother that care has no gender. The day she brought Gayatri to her place, she slept with Gayatri. Obviously, with no emotions of how to handle a child Gauri was uncomfortable with the kid sleeping next to her but something then happened which made Gauri who she is today, Gayatri put her hand on Gauri's stomach and since then Gauri can't remove that hand. You get hurt when someone calls your dog, a DOG. Motherhood is a behaviour, it isn't necessary to carry a child in your womb for 9 months to be a mother. And Gayatri encouraged her mother (the first transgender person) to file a petition in the Supreme Court of India for adoption rights of transgender people in 2014. Since then there is no looking backfor Gauri Sawant.
Once on a visit to Kamathipura, the biggest red light area in Mumbai, she saw a small baby girl playing with her mother's dupatta. Meanwhile, a man was having sex with the woman.
"I felt someone slapped me. How would the child grow up in such an environment?' - Gauri. And then she embarked on a journey to build a home for the children of sex workers.
"One just doesn't need to go to the temple to offer prayers. If we save even one life in our lifetime, that's worth a thousand prayers. What is the future of a kid who'll grow up seeing her mother having sex with strangers? So, the same night I decided to build this home for such kids called Aajicha Ghar" - Gauri
Aajicha Ghar means Nani Ka Ghar where old transgenders take care of kids of sex workers, especially girls ( Nani ka ghar, the name itself is so beautiful but the cause is even more beautiful. No matter what we say, we feel the safest at our Nani's place. To not make the young abandoned girls feel unsafe and lonely, this place is home to several such girls. HOME, a place they can come back to).
From being bullied to never been accepted by her own family, Gauri Sawant has raised herself from all these hurdles to be the person who she is today. She didn't like to play cricket when she was young because "us mein chakke (hijra/trans) zyada maare jate hai", her beauty was always trapped but she decided for herself, she decided to wear her rainbow-colored identity on her sleeves with PRIDE. Being part of the clapping queens and representing the TRANS family with such pride has made me admire her so much. I stand by her in all possible ways and support her in one of the most beautiful projects, Aajicha Ghar- Nani ka Ghar and I wish the world to be a home for colors of all shades.
HAPPY PRIDE 🌈