31 December 2005

Happy New Year

I wish you all a very Happy New year 2006
I'm on holiday until the 5th Jan... come back for more on the blog.

xxx Malika

16 December 2005

The Invisibles - The Tale of the Eunuchs of India by Zia Jaffrey

Anita, a hermaphrodite, was handed over to the hijra community by her parents when she was four; Kamal Baksh, born male, believed herself to be female and allegedly castrated herself in a remote village outside Hyderabad; Jagoman Dhyani, seeking pleasure in the big city of Delhi, was kidnapped, drugged, and castrated against his will. These are some of the testimonies of the hijras of India -- known as eunuchs, transexuals, or those who are "neither male nor female." The hijras exist in thousands in every major city of India, and are known to every Indian because they crash weddings and childbirths, sing lewd sons out of key and hurl insults at the guests. Finally, they are paid to leave everyone in peace. doorway In this bold, beautifully written book, THE INVISIBLES, Jaffrey sets out on a journey through India to find out who the hijras really are; why the subject is taboo and their history never recorded; and why their numbers show no sign of decreasing, despite India's rebirth as a modern, independent nation. Her incisive exploration of the lives, rituals, and cultural history of the hijras raises many startling questions, sheds light on a subject never before considered a "subject," and challenges the traditional scholarship... Through Jaffrey we meet police commissioners, detectives, and the hijras themselves, in a labyrinth of truth, denial and humor... Says Jaffrey: "THE INVISIBLES is a very complex story, in a very Indian way..."

"THE INVISIBLES is the delightfully eccentric record of an Indo-American writer's odyssey through India in search of the marginalized community of transsexuals and eunuchs. Jaffrey writes with lively simplicity and self-deprecating humor."
-Bharati Mukherjee, author of JASMINE

"One of the most riveting stories never told -- until now."
-Hilton Als,author of THE WOMEN

"Given the misunderstanding this community suffers, Jaffrey certainly has clarified many issues. A definite addition to collections concerned with gender."

Z I A J A F F R E Y was born in New York and spent part of her childhood in Delhi, India. She attended Barnard College, where she majored in English, and the Columbia University Graduate Writing Division for fiction. She has written numerous features and book reviews, and has been published in The Nation, The Village Voice, and Elle, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

Buy the Book

13 December 2005

What Does Transgendered Mean?

Ardhanareshwara-Painting by Anjolie Ela Menon--------------------->

A lot of people ask me what Transgender means so I think it's important to understand that.
A Transgendered (TG) person is someone whose gender identity (man or woman) does not match their biological sex (male or female). For most people, there is no incongruity between their biological sex and their internal gender identification. For TG people, their gender identity is in conflict with their biological sex.

Yes! The term Transgendered (TG) is an umbrella term used for many kinds of people with differing gender expression:

* Transgendered- The TG term is also used for someone who feels more comfortable as the other gender. TG individuals live part or full-time as the other gender.

* Transsexual- Seeks to permanently change body to match her or his personal gender definition through gender reassignment surgery (GRS). "Non-op" refers to a person who has all the hormonal/surgical treatment except the GRS because s/he has no desire to proceed with the surgery, or cannot financially afford it.

* Hijra or Eunuch (India)- Hijras include people born with a male body, but with a non-male or female gender identity; individuals born with ambiguous genitalia (intersex or hermaphrodites); and individuals who have had castration/genital reassignment surgery performed on them, sometimes without their consent.

* Transvestite or Cross-dresser- Wears clothing of a gender opposite their birth sex for emotional or sexual purposes.

* Two Spirited- Having both female and male spirits (Native American culture). Often viewed with respect because they were able to hold both gender spirits in their bodies.

* Intersexed or Hermaphrodite- Rare medical condition where babies are born with both male and female sexual organs. Sex is assigned at birth.

12 December 2005

Transgender in India and the Internet

I first ‘appeared’ as Malika on the world wide web back in 1998 and I soon discovered that were a lot of transgender Indians lurking around on the net. These TGIs (TransGendered Indians) were educated, from a middle or upper middle class urban background, English speaking or at least reading and writing basic English, they had to be, because they were Internet-wise. Most of them had either the desire to dress up in clothes of the opposite sex or had at least worn some garment at sometime or the other. Some dressed in the mother’s sarees when she was away, others sneaked in a bra or panty and wore it under their clothes in the night. A lot of them lied and told fabulous stories of their cross-dressing experiences. They showed me photos of them, cut out faces stuck on pictures of real women. A lot of them were married or had girlfriends and had children. Some were curious, others were confused and some even scared. Some wanted to find a cure to this ‘horrible’ desire that one had.

Here we in india were in Tabooland. None of them could talk about this to anybody around them. They would be banished from family and social life, forced to join the Hijras and ike out a living begging on the streets. So the internet had become the freedom space, it offered a vast library of information. The USian and Western European transgender person had come out in the open or at least on the internet. There were thousands of sites offering information on this state of being. Some gave half baked information, others referred to ideas that had been thought up by old Foggies with beards called psychiatrists (they who had even preached that these ‘sexual deviations and aberrations’ could be cured through treatment like electric shocks, I had been offered this treatment long ago) T-girls offered their “piccies”, dressed up in various feminine costumes to delight and excite the voyeuristic and frustrated TGI. Some gave information that we so wanted to understand our state.

Thus more and more TGI appeared on the internet in chat sites and discussion groups. Indian transgender/cross-dressing sites came up everyday promising to be ‘the’ way to nirvana for the TGI. Some of these stayed on and others disappeared, often I think due to lack of material to put up there on their sites. The photo situation has considerably improved with a lot of TGI now flaunting beautiful pics of them, dressed in beautiful sarees and make-up. There are secret groups and Yahoo 360° with gorgeous TGI.
But ladies, Photos were not enough. I think we are all looking for information or discussion or news about us.
We cannot just make this state of being into a self eluding voyeuristic escape. I am tired of TGI asking for my pics and wanting to show me theirs. I don’t want to see your hundred pics in sarees, I want to talk to you.

Just tell me who you are? Why are you and me like this? How is this affecting your lives? What can we do to make our lives better?

This is what I want to hear from you! This is what Internet is for. It is so that we can express ourselves in total freedom and anonymity.

09 December 2005

Heirs How the Gender Bends

In India Transgender surgeries rise across social strata and in states culturally preferring sons

Once sex change was something you'd heard of in the epics. Or happening to some faceless rich who could afford the expensive surgery.
Not any more. The number of transgendered—across the social spectrum—is growing, with sex change operations prevalent widely in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu. And with government-run hospitals and reputed private ones refusing to entertain such requests, quacks and quickfixers are wielding the scalpel with impunity.
Growing numbers apart, what's sinister about this gender twist is that it is no longer individuals trapped in their bodies making these decisions. Parents in their perennial quest for a male heir are forcing such operations on their daughters. They are making a complete mockery of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Technologies Act which prohibits sex determination to prevent female foeticide. Many families admitted to Outlook that they have rung up doctors to simply transform their daughters into sons.

Confirmation comes from Delhi-based plastic surgeon Sukhdayal Singh Sethi, who stopped performing transsexual surgeries a few years ago.He talks about how he had to turn down pleas for sex change from Haryana and Rajasthan families because he was unable to check the authenticity of their claims. "I've had parents requesting their daughters to be changed into sons. As they were not accompanied by their daughters, I had no way of checking the genuineness of their
claims," says Sethi. However, that wouldn't have prevented them from going to some other doctor. "I have performed seven surgeries so far, all of them from female to male, only after ascertaining that the cases were genuine. The surgeries have been performed after getting all the legal documents attested by a magistrate. And all this was done only after a team of psychiatrists was convinced about the individual's desire to change. I have kept all the affidavits as backup," says Sethi. Mumbai-based Dr Kalpesh Gajiwala too has had to turn down requests from families who wanted to change their daughters' sex. It was Gajiwala who handled the case of Aparna Mafatlal, who became Ajay Mafatlal, ostensibly to stake a claim in the family fortune.

It doesn't help matters that the cultural preference for sons has actually led to a skewed population ratio in favour of boys in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. It is also not surprising that these states boast of neonatal sex determination clinics in some form or the other.

Sethi once handled a case where a grocer with six daughters requested him to consider his 22-year-old daughter who wanted to be a man. "The girl managed the store and I found her literally wearing the pants in the family and behaving like a boy. So, despite the fact that he had six daughters, I was convinced about the genuineness of the claim as was the team of psychiatrists I consulted before operating upon her," says Sethi.
Taking recourse to loans and borrowing money from relatives, these ordinary folks cannot afford the luxury of the rich to fly abroad for a sex change. It's the other way round, in fact. With such operations being cheaper here than in the West, doctors say the number of foreigners coming to India for correctional surgeries has been on the rise in the last couple of years. "While a surgery in India could cost Rs 2 to 3 lakh (800 to 1200 US$), it could be three times higher in the West," says Calcutta-based plastic surgeon Sheila Rohatgi.

She talks of an unfortunate case she had to handle when a girl brought up as a boy by her parents wanted a sex change. "After putting her through an intense psychological test, I had to make a choice. But it was indeed sad that the child did not know what it meant to be a woman," says the doctor who was not happy with the decision made.

While Sethi argues that in most cases his patients were actually lesbians, where one of the partners wanted to be male, Teesta Mitra, 30, a transsexual from Calcutta, finds the whole argument ridiculous. "I choose not to respond to questions about homosexuality," she says.

"It was toxic poison when I grew a beard at the age of 17 and was determined to change all that," she says. So, Teesta underwent a sex change operation to become a woman and is currently undergoing laser surgery sittings to get rid of unwanted hair. Her father, a worker at a biscuit factory, stood by her while her mother strongly opposed the change. Her father had to take a loan to fund the surgery and today Teesta, who always considered herself a woman trapped in a male body, says her ambition is to become a good actress.It has taken Teesta a long time to become a woman and she's determined to stay that way. "If I had my way, I'd clone somebody like me," she says. She is now reunited with her mother who has become her strongest supporter. They will, in fact, be starting a helpline for the transgendered community. Teesta has already taken a bow in cinema and waits for more offers to come by. She says she does not feel discriminated now. "It was painful earlier when I had to lodge an FIR (First Instance Report at the Police Station) against boys in my colony. Now, I am at peace."

Closely following the Mafatlal case is Richa (name changed) who has just embarked on her personal journey to become a man. "I always thought myself to be a boy and nothing else. I also have a girlfriend who understands me and I have explained my decision to her," says Richa. For the moment, she has convinced her psychiatrists of her need to become a man but not her parents who are still in a shock over her decision. "Though my brother has offered me money, I will be taking a loan as the surgery is expensive," she says. Her doctor has explained the pitfalls in the transition from female to male. Possessing a wisdom beyond her 25 years, Richa says sex is not really on her mind. "There is more to life than sex," she says.

But what if you're denied passports, ration cards, or discriminated against in your professional career if you've had a sex change? Even the law doesn't seem to be on the side of the transgendered. The only rights they enjoy appear in Articles 14 (Equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law) applicable to all citizens of India.

Teesta will be applying for a passport and accepts the task is both daunting and a challenge. For Richa, who'll be seeking a change of gender in the passport, there are ways to bend the rules. "I have fought too hard for my identity and cannot let a small matter like a passport affect me," she says. Ankur, who works in a software firm in Delhi, is not sure how his office will react to his decision to change from a man to woman. "I am on hormones right now and I am really unsure about how my employers will react," he says. One metro away, Professor Manabi Bannerjee, earlier Somnath Bannerjee, is battling it out at West Bengal's Department of Education. It is yet to recognise her change to a womanthough she intimated her changed status to the authorities than a year ago. Clearly, the courts will have to step in to help out the transgendered till society accepts their choices for what they are.

08 December 2005

Fish Curry and Rice

I like to cook. I love to cook. Something I always wanted to do when I was young. I watched my mother cook, she made and makes the most wonderful food in the world.

I learnt to cook much later in life, when I was twenty or so. I tried different recipes, first from cook books and then I asked my mother to share her secrets. She at first said that I was a man and it was a woman's job to do the cooking. My mother is a traditional Indian woman, although she had been to university like most middle class urban women.

Then my mother slowly realised that I was not so much a man and she slowly gave out her secrets to me, like she did with her sarees. I had thus become her daughter.

Fish Curry and rice is staple fare for an Indian family of my region.

Its quite easy to make it or so I think now after years of making it. Even my mother thinks so. She thinks that I have my own way of making it, a little different for hers but hers is different from her mothers. So the secret passes on.

Fish Curry
Carp - 500 gm. or other river fish or shelled and devined Jumbo prawns
(cut into medium sized pieces)
Turmeric powder - 5 gm.
Cumin powder - 5 gm.
Coriander powder - 5 gm.
Panch-phoran - 1 gm in all
* Fenugreek (methi)
* Nigella seed (kalo jira)(Onion seed)
* brown Mustard seed (rai or shorshe)
* Fennel seed (mouri)
* Cumin seed (jeera)
Green chilies(sliced) - 10 gm.
Onions - 2 large
Oil - 15 ml.
Salt to taste
Sugar 1/2 tsp

Rub salt and turmeric on fish and leave for 15 mins to marinate.

Cut the onions in to 4 quarters and blend them into a smooth paste. (add a few tsp of water to help form the paste in the blender)

Combine cumin and coriander into paste with a little water in a bowl.

Heat oil in a wok and lightly fry the fish and remove and place on a plate with kitchen roll paper spread over to soak the excess oil.

In the same hot oil, that was used to fry the fish, add Panch-phoran and one green chilli (slit it or it will burst), when they start to sputter and the chilli starts to get a little yellow.
Add the onion paste and sauté until brownish. The oil will be absorbed by the onion paste.

Now add Cumin-Coriander paste after 5-6 mins.

Stir well and add a cup of water. Add salt to taste. Add sugar.

Add the fried fish.
Turn down the heat to simmer.

Check seasoning. Add Chilli powder if you want it to be HOT!

Let it cook for 5 minutes. Add more water if it dries up.

Now add freshly chopped coriander. Stir.

Serve hot with boiled rice.

Time taken -- 30 to 45 mins.
Serves -- 6.

Tips: Go easy on the chillies if you want it to be mild.


07 December 2005

TAKE ACTION: Protest Coca-Cola's Violence in India!

Communities across India are under assault from Coca-Cola practices in the country. A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India....

click hereIndiasource.org

Five steps to drape a saree.

Here is a step by step how to drape a saree:

Step 1: First of all put on a saree-petticoat and tie it confortably tight around the waist or just 3-4 inches below (for hipster look)

Then take inner end of the saree and starting from left side three-fourths accross the front-waist tuck the upper edge into the petticoat. See that the lower edge of the saree is levelled with the ground (don’t forget to wear your shoes or sandles with heels preferably.)
Step 2: Now take the loose end of the saree around the back & tuck smoothly into the petticoat.

Step 3: Bring the saree forward from the right hand side and fold into pleats (7 to 10) the last one little broader than the rest and pulled up slightly (this gives a neat smooth look) and tuck them neatly and flat into the petticoat. Again the lower end of the saree should be levelled with the ground.

How much to leave for the pallu (the cascading end at the back) depends on the length that suits you best. Pull the over drape to tighteen around the hips and waist, take it up and place over your left shoulder in neat folds.

step 5:And there you are elegantly drapped in saree!

I love sarees and I think thet they really bring out the woman in you.

06 December 2005

Anita, the discriminating Crossdresser

My response to the comment to my post 'Who Am I?' (below)

ANITA wrote:
"I have been to your website earlier.. I thought that you are eunuch but was not aware of you being homo. I have seen your photograph in near and dear of Miss Supriya. Being a m2f hetero CD, I will be afraid to meet homo cd but have you ever met Miss Supriya... she being hetero... how was her reaction and how did u control urself..."

Dear Anita... Yes, I did meet Surpriya, a 'm2f hetero CD', but I did manage to control my 'animal' 'homo'. tendencies. I did not pounce upon her like I do normally in my day to day life. I normally pounce upon every man that I meet, the bus driver, the cigarettewala, the shopkeeper, even my best friends. I am a sick perverted 'homo'.. People like me should be banished to a concentration camp, exterminated so that 'sane'. people like you can live in safety. You who is 'normal'., with heterosexual tendencies'. But think for a minute my dear friend!
You call yourself ANITA? You dress or dream of dressing up in clothes of the opposite sex? You masturbate looking at photos of Transsexuals, transvestites and crossdressers? So you are 'normal.' because you are a 'male to female heterosexual crossdresser'.
Labels, that what I was talking about Madam. Labels that the world needs to put people in boxes and nomenclatura, so that they can tell themselves that they are 'normal.' Are you trying to do that?
If they see you in the street dressed in your pretty Saree, with your make-up, they will yell out to you the same words: FAGGOT! QUEEN! EUNNUCH! HOMO!

Think again Miss Anita!


Closet queen, Cross-dresser, Female impersonator, Fruitcake, Drag Queen, Transvestite.
Well, All those names are for me. I didn't decide that.
All I know is that I wasn't asked what sex I wanted to be, when I was born. They just decided that I was to be a 'man'. So I just went about it, trying to be a 'man'. What did it mean to be a 'man'. Well, growing up with boys, fighting with them, climbing walls, getting violent, playing 'war games'. And then as a young adolecent, trying to macho and masculine. But, hey! wait a minute, I don't want to do that. The 'boy's' bore me to death with their bravado and their horsing around. Their stupid show of strenght and power.
BOY'S DON'T CRY! Fuck it!
I want to cry! I want to express my feelings, 'silly feelings', so called 'girlish feelings'. I want to play house with a doll. I want to be like mummy when I grow up, not daddy who just watches TV and grunts. I want to wear a saree, a pretty lavender saree. Tie my hair in braids and put 'Kohl' in my eyes. I want to cook great meals. I want to sew and embroider a table cloth.
Yes I am one. I wear sarees, I wear make-up and I sew and I cook and I CRYYYYYYYYYY!!!
I don't have breasts or an hour-glass figure. I don't have a Vagina or a clitoris. But I am a woman!
And I'm happy this way.