‘Love Happens’: 15 Transgender Persons Married The Men They Love in a Joint Ceremony (Video)
Karwan-e-Mohabbat captured the celebration of love in this short film titled “The Right to an Equal Love.”
“Will any family accept a person from the transgender community as their daughter-in-law or sister-in-law? They’ll say that she won’t be able to bear children; that she cannot take the bloodline forward. What we want to ask the society is, do people get married only to have children? It does not make a difference. Is there a uniform language of love?” questions Akriti, a transgender woman attending the mass wedding of 15 transgender persons organised in Raipur, Chattisgarh in March 2019.
Everyone has the right to love, to be loved, and feel a sense of belonging. In India, this right is mostly exercised through marriage — predominantly between cis, heterosexual men and women who belong to the same caste. Often viciously ridiculed, attacked and socially boycotted, the Indian transgender community did not have this right for a long time. The Supreme Court, in its historic five-bench verdict of September 2018 decriminalised the infamous section 377 of the IPC, giving the LGBTQIA+ community equal social rights, most importantly the right to have consensual sexual relationships.
Legal reforms, however, do not shatter social prejudices and also do not necessarily ensure social equality. In a country where there is very limited space to love, especially when your partner is somewhat “different”, the joint marriage ceremony of 15 transgender women with men of their choice stands out as a flicker of hope.
On Valentine’s Day this year, the organisers met transgender women who were already in a relationship with men but had not married yet. This is how they came up with the idea of the mass marriage ceremony. They also contacted other such couples in other states. “We are alone. When we express our gender, our families also abandon us. We felt the need of having a life partner. On Valentine’s day, we met many couples who wished to marry. This is how the planning started. Today, 15 such couples from India tied the knot. Many more shall follow,” exclaims Vidhya Rajput, a social worker.
Rajput says, “It was a reason for deep sorrow resulting in our loneliness and a kind of social exclusion. That’s why we decided to organise a mass marriage for transgender people to send messages to the people. By which people feel that we have the right to love and marry like other citizens.”
Marriage is one of the most significant life events. To marry as per your terms and conditions is a privilege for the fortunate some and a dream for the unfortunate many. Not all people, especially those from the sexual minority communities, enjoy this privilege.
This joint ceremony in Raipur is thus a dream come true in many respects. There were couples from all over the country — Bihar, Chattisgarh, Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. It was a unique ceremony where people from different faiths tied the knot through common customs.
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“Sometimes I even think that one day I’ll have my swayamvar. Until now, we have only seen a boy marrying a girl. This is happening for the first time. These 15 people have come forward. This will encourage more people to come forward in the future”, laughs India’s first Miss Transqueen, Veena Sendre, dressed in a beautiful red bridal sari.
“Today, my dream is getting fulfilled. I am very excited about this haldi ceremony. Tomorrow I’ll get married and my husband, Junaid Khan, will take me along with him. I am so happy. My dream has come true.”, rejoices bride-to-be Jaya, painted in glittery yellow Haldi.
Many believe that kinnars will enter mainstream society through such ceremonies. Marriage is meant to change the mindset of society and to give a message that kinnars can also love and want to marry. “These are those people who will change the mindsets of people. When I get into a relationship with someone and ask him to marry me, he taunts ‘who will marry a kinnar?’.”
“They are real heroes who have accepted our community, heart, and love,” says Jaya referring to the men who have gone against society to marry transgender people.
There has been a small yet significant shift — enough to be appreciated in the way transgender people are represented in dramas, daily soaps and web series. Colors’ TV show “Shakti Astitva Ke Ehsas Ki” and the popular Netflix series Sacred Games represented transwomen as human beings, breaking many stereotypes. Although in both the shows, men fall in love with them because they were seen as cis-women before their identity is revealed. Love is still treated as a completely heterosexual affair. Even then, this is a significant development. We need more shows, movies and literature to normalise the lives of the transgender community. There’s still a lot to be done.
The community is forced to live a life of shame and has to face all kinds of abuses and discrimination. The typical Indian psyche needs an overhauling. It’s a travesty that because of our indifference and prejudices, an entire community is made to feel ashamed of their identity.
Nonetheless, this wedding is a moment of celebration. A hole in the sky has been made.