Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi (known as Laxmi, sometimes transliterated as Lakshmi) is a transgender rights activist, Hindi film actress and Bharatanatyam dancer in Mumbai, India. She was born in 1979 in Thane. Laxmi is a hijra. She is the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008. At the assembly, she spoke of the plight of sexual minorities. "People should be more humane. They should respect us as human beings and consider our rights as transgenders," she said.
Laxmi was the eldest born who was assigned male at birth, into an orthodox Brahmin family in Thane Maharashtra. After completing her schooling from Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania School, Thane, she acquired an arts degree from Mumbai's Mithibai College and a postgraduate degree in Bharatnatyam. Often being told she was gay and being called "homo", in about grade 5 Laxmi sought out the only gay person she knew Ashok Row Kavi. She starred in several Ken Ghosh dance videos and went on to become a choreographer herself.
In a video for Project Bolo she recalls meeting the first PhD hijra student in India, Shabira. She met the hijra community through Shabira and soon after became a bar dancer. She was fairly famous having admirers come from across the city to watch her dance. However this was short lived as Maharashtra home minister RR Patil decided to shut down the city's dance bars. Laxmi organized protests against this move. The dancers lost but Laxmi got her first taste for activism.
Laxmi has served on the boards of several NGOs which conduct LGBT activist work. In 2002 she became president of the NGO DAI Welfare Society, the first registered and working organization for eunuchs in South Asia. In 2007 she started her own organization, Astitiva. This organization works to promote the welfare of sexual minorities, their support and development.
When Kavi started to appeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made homosexuality a crime; Laxmi joined his team. During a press conference with the media and Zee TV she appeared in full makeup and women's clothing. This is when her parents found out about her association with the hijra community. It was shocking news as her parents were looking into marriage proposals. In an interview with BBC her father was asked about his thoughts on his child's sexuality he responded, "if my child was handicapped would you even ask me whether I’d have asked him to leave home? And just because his sexual orientation is different?"
In April 2014 Indian Supreme Court recognized transgender rights, officially recognizing them as a third gender. Which gives relief to an estimated 3 million people within India. Laxmi along with a legal agency had petitioned the court to recognize transgender as a third category on all documents. Alongside this recognition the courts have ordered the government to provide quotas in jobs and education, similar to the ones for other minority groups in India. Governments were also ordered by apex courts to construct third washrooms and create health departments to take care of transsexual medical needs. They will also be entitled to adopt children and after reassignment surgery identify with their gender of choice.
Laxmi was widely criticized by fellow transgenders for patronizing the Transgender cause in India and working with an elite group of activists, NGO's,CBO's which didn't create any impact in real life of Indian Transgender community. Individual transgender activists didn’t agree with her views on sympathizing trans community.
In popular culture
Laxmi frequently gives interviews and otherwise represents the LGBT community in popular media. Laxmi has starred in several TV shows. She was a participant in the Indian television show Bigg Boss (season 5). She was evicted after six weeks. She also starred in Sach ka samna with Rajeev Khandelval, 10 Ka Dum with Salman Khan and Raaz Pichle Janam ka.
In Sach Ka Samna it was the first time India saw a transgender person on TV with their parents. Which allowed for there to be an open conversation about hijras and myths surrounding them.
Laxmi starred in an award winning documentary in 2005, Between the Lines: India's Third Gender.
Tripathi is featured in Project Bolo, a documentary series about LGBT Indians that has been released on DVD.
In 2011 Laxmi starred in Queens! Destiny of Dance, an award-winning Bollywood movie about hijras that garnered rave reviews.
In Big Boss Tripathi said that she had been in a relationship with a man for two years. She has two adopted children. She now stays in Thane, Maharashtra.
She told Project Bolo that she got breast augmentation but did not receive any hormone therapy. She told them she got a lot of backlash from the hijra community for her speaking out and meeting Salman Rushdie.
- Mehra, Preeti (2014-04-25). "A free country, again". The Hindu Business Line.
- Singh, Divyesh (10 March 2008). "The third gender rises to a social challenge". dnaindia.com. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Kavi, Ashok Row (2015-04-27). "Fables and half-truths: Autobiography of a Hijra". Hindustan Times.
- "Pooja Missra might win Bigg Boss 5: Laxmi - Hindustan Times". hindustantimes.com. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.