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Out of the closet and proud of it


SITA MADEMBA in DHARAN


SITA MADEMBA
EMBOLDENED: More individuals like Suhani Rajdhami (right) and Khusi Rai have come out since the Supreme Court directed the government to make provisions for the recognition of the 'third gender'.
The summer that Chaiyun Chaudhari of Itahari turned 16, her parents received a marriage proposal for her from the family of a boy in the neighbourhood. From a very early age, Chaiyun knew she was not attracted to men. When she refused the marriage proposal, her brother asked her to leave her parents house.

"That was more than 10 years ago," she says, "I had no home and people called me names, I have been mistreated ever since." She lived with a partner for a very long time, and now has returned home to take care of her aging father. She is butch, dresses and acts like a man and has been working as a peer counsellor at the Human Welfare Section in Itahari since last year.

Sarita Chaudhari was born as a woman and now goes by the name Samrat who used to work as a labourer and met Nikita a few years back. The two eloped and got married last year. The couple say that they have been pressured by both their families, political parties and friends. "Nikita's parents went to the Maoists who accused me of being a pimp and then took us away for three months to Lachani village," says Samrat. They forcefully urged both to join the party. "When they saw that we weren't going to leave each other they left us in peace," adds Samrat.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women are still not tolerated in Itahari. However, gay men say that lesbian women have a harder time than they do.

Kristina of Ekabma in Sunsari doesn't want to be called Krishna Magar anymore. Born as the only son among two sisters, Kristina just passed the SLC exams. She says it was difficult for her to explain to her friends and teachers in school that she was third gender. She is now preparing for higher studies and is again worried that her new friends and teachers in college may not accept her sexual identity and prevent her from attending school.

"It took me so long to grow my hair out, I will never chop these locks off or wear a man's uniform to school," says Kristina. Although her parents used to pressure her to act like a man in the beginning, now they have accepted that Kristina wants to remain a girl.

Morang's Bhaikaji Priyar is now 28. He got married to a woman and also has a son. However, Pariyar now goes by the name Kanchi and identifies as a woman. "I also have a husband, who is exactly like me and wants to be with a person like me. I was forced to get married to a woman back then," says Kanchi.

Suhani Rajdhami Belbari, Morang may have been born as a man, but when she realised that she is a woman trapped in a man's body and wanted to be more like a woman, her family supported her. Today she injects hormones and takes pills to change her body. She even stood first in the 'Beauty and Brains' competition held in Biratnagar last year.

It is not easy to come out as a gay, transgender or third gender person in Itahari. Many have been kicked out of homes and rejected by society. They are refused jobs and the only way they can survive is through prostitution. Gagani Chaudhari, 42 of Sunsari, sells his body to survive. His clients are mostly married men who have not come out of the closet.

More homosexual and transgender people started coming out when Human Welfare Section was established in Itahari three years ago. Since a lot of transgender men and women are involved in prostitution, the group is very vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Blue Diamond Society, an organisation that advocates the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Nepal has been coordinating with Itahari-based Sahara Society in distributing condoms and lubricants. The Society, established by Samrat a year ago for lesbians, is in touch with more than 500 gay women. Three people of third gender stood for the CA election last year in Sunsari.

In 2007 Nepal's Supreme Court declared that all discriminatory laws against LGBTI people must be repealed by the government and provisions must be made for the recognition of 'third gender' on government documents. A year later the SC again directed the government to form a committee to study the possibility of recognising same-sex marriages. In June a seven-member committee was formed to study same-sex marriage bills in other countries.


LGBTI 101

Lesbian: Sexual attraction or behaviour between two women.
Gay: Sexual attraction or behaviour between two men.
Bisexual: Sexual behaviour with or physical attraction to people of both genders (male and female).
Transgender: Individuals who cross gender boundaries or a man or woman that adopts the attributes of the opposite sex. The sexual preference of a transgender person often varies.
Transsexual: Those individuals who alter their physical appearance either by operation or hormones to become members of the opposite sex. Transsexuals can be either female to male (FtM) or male to female (MtF) and are sometimes referred to as "post-opt" after surgery.
Transvestite: Men or women who dress in the clothing of the opposite sex. They are also known as drag queens (men who dress in women's clothing), drag kings (women who dress in men's clothing) or cross dressers.
Intersex: Those born with mixed sexual physiology. Often at birth their gender is decided either by surgery or the parents chose to raise the child as male or female.

READ ALSO:
Queering the pitch - FROM ISSUE #461 (24 JULY 2009 - 30 JULY 2009)



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