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Red Lipstick

Who Am I.? Whom Am I when it’s just me, alone in my room.? Who am I for the world.? Are these two selves different, do they have to be.?

Making her Identity and finally answering herself, this is the story of Laxmi, a transgender rights activist, Hindi film actor and Bharatanatyam dancer, a celebrity and an LGBT icon. She is the founder of the NGO Astitva, which works towards the support and development of sexual minorities, she is the first transgender who went to United nations representing the ASIA PACIFIC sex workers. Laxmi played a pivotal role in the recognition of hijras as the third gender in India.

Today she has found her individuality in the society and she accepts her only role as an activist. She thinks highly of her identity and tells us how she tirelessly spends her days in service to her community. Beautiful examples showing the history and tradition of the hijras are depicted in her book: Red Lipstick- The men in my life. One such example depicted is that of Ardhanareshwar i.e. the Shiva and Shakti. Ardhanareshvara is a combination of three words “Ardha,” “Nari,” and “Ishwara” means “half,” “woman,” and “lord,” respectively, which when combined means the lord whose half is a woman. Ardhanareshvara harmonizes the two conflicting ways of life: The spiritual way of the ascetic as represented by Shiva, and the materialistic way of the householder symbolized by Parvati. It conveys that Shiva and Shakti are one and the same. A human being is not a pure unisexual organism. Each human organism bears the potentiality of both male and female sex.

She further goes ahead and tells us about her journey from being a part of Tripathi-a Brahmanical caste to be a part of Lashkar gharana-a hijra family. She remembers how her father was a patriarch and died a lonely death. The people he tried to please whole his life (the society and the village men) never even cared for him in his last days. Her father was ChandraDev Chandinath Tripathi and he died a painful death due to cancer. She however remembers that even being a tuff man outside her father never questioned her femininity and how silence always worked between them. She tells us how much she misses har father.

Can you imagine how strong one has to be to give that kind of love, to someone like that.? It can only be a father. It was my father.

Laxmi, Red Lipstick

Rest of the book deals with other relationships she has had through her life. One such mention is of: Atharv and she dedicates her new avatar and her work to the effort and support of her partner. She describes it as I am totally dependent on Atharv- He does all the work, everything. I am just the business card, the face, the persona. She comes out to be bold and candid while giving an account of her relationship with men. She adds that “Once a man in Laxmi’s life, he is never really out of it.”

I have had many relationships; I’ve slept with many men- discovering pleasure, sexuality and my body-but never for money or work. I’ve only slept with a man for pleasure and I always will. I respect my body too much to be let it become part of a transaction like that.

Laxmi, Red Lipstick

Regardless of her experiences Laxmi has toiled and made things possible. In 2002 she became president of the NGO DAI Welfare Society, the first registered and working organization for eunuchs in South Asia. 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.

LGBT rights across the world:

As of 2019, 28 countries recognize same sex marriage they are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.

6 countries effectively impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts, with three in Asia (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and three in Africa (Nigeria (the northern states), Sudan and Somalia (Jubaland region))

Death penalty is a possible punishment in 6 other countries: Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

As of India Same-sex marriage is not explicitly prohibited under Indian law, but it is emphasized in Heteronormativity.Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the norm or default sexual orientation.

Mention of homosexuality in history:

Homosexual and gender-variant individuals were common among American Natives. They used the term ” Two spirit ” and believed these individuals are “both male and female”.Traces of homosexuality can be tracked in East Asian countries Like China, Japan, Thailand etc. Homosexuality in Japan, variously known as shudo or nanshoku, has been documented for over one thousand years and had some connections to the Buddhist monastic life and the samurai tradition. This same-sex love culture gave rise to strong traditions of paintaings and literature documenting and celebrating such relationships. The famous Ladyboys or katheoy in Thailand have been a part of Thai society for centuaries.Even In China homosexuality has been recorded since approximately 600 BCE.Throughout Hindu and Vedic texts there are many descriptions of saints, demigods, and even the Supreme Lord transcending gender norms and manifesting multiple combinations of sex and gender. There are several instances in ancient Indian epic poetry of same sex depictions and unions by gods and goddesses. There are several stories of depicting love between same sexes especially among kings and queens. Kamasutra the ancient Indian treatise on love talks about feelings for same sexes. There are several depictions of same-sex sexual acts in temples like Khajurao Several Mughal noblemen and emperors and other Muslim rulers of South Asia are known to have had homosexual inclinations. In South Asia the Hijra are a caste of third-gender, or transgender group who live a feminine role. Hijra may be born male or intersex, and some may have been born female.

TermsDefinition
Lesbians and Gayssame-sex attraction
Bisexual
Someone who is attracted to people of their gender or other gender identities.
PansexualSomeone who is attracted to people of all gender identities. Or someone who is attracted to a person’s qualities regardless of their gender identity.
AsexualSomeone who experiences little to no sexual attraction.
DemisexualSomeone who generally does not experience sexual attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional, but not necessarily romantic, connection with someone.
GraysexualSomeone who occasionally experiences sexual attraction but usually does not; it covers a kind of gray space between asexuality and sexual identity.
CisgenderSomeone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. It is like opposite of transgender. Cisgender is a word used to describe gender identity. Straight, on the other hand, is used to describe sexual orientation. Being cisgender isn’t the same thing as being straight, but they can overlap: People can be both cisgender and straight.
TransgenderA wide-ranging term for people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the biological sex they were assigned at birth.
GENDER NONCONFORMING, OR G.N.C.One who expresses gender outside traditional norms associated with masculinity or femininity. Not all gender-nonconforming people are transgender, and some transgender people express gender in conventionally masculine or feminine ways.
Non-binaryA person who identifies as neither male nor female and sees themselves outside the gender binary. This is sometimes shortened to N.B. or enby.
QueerPeople who reject static, conventional categories of gender and embrace fluid ideas of gender (and often sexual orientation). They are people whose gender identity can be both male and female, neither male nor female, or a combination of male and female.
Intersexan individual having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of both male and female.
Some known and recently added terms LGBTQI+

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