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“ Jab mere baat hi tumne shikhandi ke vanshaz se shuru kar di, toh kis muh se kahu ki mai ek randi hu”

Written by Shiv (They/Them)

Queerspeak 1.0

“Raat me bas hum jananiya hi nhi nikalti sadko par, padhe likhe mard bhau phlele hi laga kar kadhe hote hai ghato par”

The Sex Group, the Caste, the Kothis, the Jananis, the Aguas kept whispering to me in a traditional persistence. When you ask me whether I’m a trans-woman or a cross-dresser or a shemale, I see that nobody cares on those roads of Kuthiya Ghat, Kanpur Railway Highway, Charbhag Lucknow Station or any minars of Lucknow. If they find me desirable, I am picked. 

As a trans sex worker, there lies no social empathy or voice to talk about my goods or bads. Often female cis-bodied sex worker has an echo of sympathy, the jananis are always thought to be demanding, pleasuring, thriving of it, as if that’s what the identity transcends. 

You walk around and will find those female prostitutes living in their ghettos, those are reserved places, the police, the sahibs know about them, there is a binding system, its protective. They are safe! Those big politicians, dalals, hound men and Netaji shelter them, cultivate the business. Me and the sakhis only dwell in our solidarity, it’s us challenging the hunger. 

The Jananis don’t have the conventional tradable body, I can’t just wear a saree/blouse and walk around the ghats. I have to buy a makeup, a razor, pad, bhapke(perfume), jewellery and what not. The beauty has to work! It costs me dearly when they only pay us something around 300 rupees, unlike those females getting 2000-3000 rupees for every client. During the covid, I worked for meagre 50 rupees.

“Hume nahi chaiye ki koi aakar hume bachae, bas wahi izzat aur kadr ho joh samaz me sabki hai”

I don’t have a vaginal way to have vagino-penal intercourse. Some of the sakhis are picked just for a blowjob, some go for anal sex and some fulfil whips and fantasies of those masculine men wanting to be penetrated. They have the liberty to beat us, they are painfully violent and you cannot complain, more like there is no one to complain.

I remember once a client took me in a car, and during the ride asked me that there will be a friend, I agreed initially. When I reached there, they were four of them, pushed me, pulled my clothes and forced me to have sex, and did not even pay after that. Anyone can beat, threaten, deliver violence and my didis would have no money to even get any treatment. The wound stays alive!

Most of our customers are policemen, in khaki ranks and power. They dread being caught with a female sex worker; it can get them in legal compulsions. But with us, it’s easy, no existing legal or social boundaries. 

The brothels are not there, they are not legalised, so mostly they take us out on cars, out of town in most cases, then you have to take a ride back to the city. 

At times, our own Sakhis and queer folx discriminate. A theft, a mis-happening, we are the first to get blamed as if the compass of immorality is stuck upon me. The Agua saathi also fear being out or blackmailed. Why wouldn’t they? Most of them live a life of a man in the mornings, portray that role and jananis at night. What if somebody gets to know? The neighbourhood is a dangerous place. When I used to go out for the work, I used to always say it’s a Jagrata or Ramayan-patth. 

The Government only sees us as kothis, giriyas and double decker, there is no “self” beyond it. When I see healthcare among my sakhis, there is no regularity, mostly don’t go for any check-ups. If there is a wound or cut during the anal sex, they will call it a fissure or hemorrhoids, nobody ever feels like seeing a doctor. A lot of the sakhis think condoms are just for anal sex, and not for other sexual acts. And, you will be wrong if you blame us for this kind unawareness, there is so much othering in the name of HIV/AIDS. Why it is not included with normal health check-up camps? Why they make it so exclusive? 

The Government should also be accountable, our human rights and dignity are never the conversation. They see us as someone who needs to be postered as HIV/AIDS perpetuator, to save the cis, this façade of raising awareness to us about HIV/AIDS as if we are sort of termites that needs to be stopped from poisoning the cis-world. But who is going to tell them that it’s their men who come to us, penetrate and bring us the disease. The political lens always ends with me and the sakhis being the one spreading HIV.

Also, there is no space for us within the community itself, nobody really speaks about us. Tell me one collectivisation that talks about any trans-sex worker. The holy Hizras and pandal kinnars with their purity and godliness attached will never allow us to be visible. Nobody asks the Matth DevDasi and Sakhi Sampradaya, who have always been temple prostitutes and how it religiously shields them. When the conversation in meetings or forums begins with setting me as demi-god, devi or guru-saman, my living reality is shattered right at that moment. 

“ Jab mere baat hi tumne shikhandi ke vanshaz se shuru kar di, toh kis muh se kahu ki ek randi hu”


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