Munithayamma, 57 (Housewife, Bengaluru)

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Veena S, 35
(Social Worker, Bengaluru )

By Shonali Ghosal

Munithayamma and Veena S
Munithayamma and Veena S, Photo: Hari Adivarekar

AS A 12-year-old boy, “he didn’t want to wear shorts or knickers, wanted to wear saris and would do womanly things like cook food and wash clothes. The neighbours would beat him; he’d cry a lot,” recalls Munithayamma. She confesses to hitting him and throwing him out of the house at 16 “when he still wouldn’t change”. His father was dead, and with no support from his mother and three sisters, the boy stayed in a temporary dwelling on the road for two years. He assimilated into a nearby hamam, a commune for hijra culture. With the money he saved from performing and alms, he had himself castrated. The boy was now Veena, a transgender woman. Munithayamma’s neighbours taunted and abused her for what her son had done. Meanwhile, Munithayamma learnt about their locality’s history of violence, abuse and murder of hijras in nearby hamams. She went and brought Veena home. Veena’s sisters accepted her as Munithayamma had. It’s been 15 years since Veena was welcomed back into her home. Munithayamma signed the petition to question those who question her daughter’s decision. “She’s my child and if I can accept her, why should it bother you?”

Shonali Ghosal is a Correspondent with Tehelka. 
shonali@tehelka.com

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