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I am Vidya: A Transgender's Journey

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Identities are not mere markers we are known by, they define as well as limit us. They can both confine or release a consciousness. I Am Vidya is the story of one such journey: that of a declaration, of the claiming of an identity. It is an assertion of a consciousness that has suffered the agony of being trapped in a mould it does not belong to, a body it does not identify with. Vidya has lived through all the indignities forced upon a tirunangai, a transgender, by a society which divides and defines itself as men and women in terms of biology alone. From being spurned by her family, to begging on the streets as a social outcast, from donning a woman's clothes, to undergoing excruciating surgery to lose her 'manhood', from suffering emotional and physical harassment, to arriving at her true identity. A compelling narrative about a woman trapped within a man's body, this is a story of extraordinary courage and perseverance.

144 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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Living Smile Vidya

2 books5 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
174 reviews10 followers
June 20, 2021
Trans life

This is the 1st Trans life I read.
Many aspects of their life is brought out with reality.
The knowledge in arts of the writer has really helped the work.
Profile Image for Monika.
170 reviews268 followers
August 21, 2019
I Am Vidya - A Transgender's Journey by Living Smile Vidya is an undaunting memoir in prose. Vidya was born trapped in the body of a man and was called Saravanan by the people around her. She had a difficult childhood because of the stern behaviour of her father towards her education. His intentions weren't wrong, but the kind of behaviour he showed to his 'son' was disheartening. Good at studies, Vidya went on to finish her MA in linguistics and then decided to change her course of life — for better or for worse — that is the answer I was seeking through this book. Perhaps I didn't need to. The way our society behaves with people who are not the way the mainstream society is, is something which I needn't talk about. Like our knowledge about the air we are breathing right now, it is looming over our existence. It is an altogether different matter if we are willing to talk about it or not.

Having read two memoirs written by transgender people as well as watching and loving the TV series POSE, the appalling condition in which Vidya had undergone her sex change operation was making me contort in uncomfort. Like Vidya, thousands of transgenders must have undergone the operation in the hospital Vidya was sent. Their fear before going for the operation was written on the wall of the hospital. They didn't want to be forgotten by their families and friends and by the world in general. They wanted to let their families and friends know that they had been there in the hospital. Vidya didn't want to be pessimistic, so she didn't write her name on the wall of the hospital. I wish her optimism had resulted in a more humane treatment. Such a life-changing operation was done with no compassion whatsoever. The "slaughterhouse" she had gone to, discharged her as soon as she showed some recovery. Even after all the manhandling the society showered on her, she found her internal peace - not amidst the wilful acceptance/promise of the society, but because of the proximity she felt with her new body.

Reading memoirs like this, I often question the shape of our society. Something as natural as our need for food and water is shovelled under tarmac as if its existence can be denied because of our denial. I wish I could have ended with the hope that we have it in us to change our society for the better, but the recent Trans Rights Bill paint an altogether different picture of the matter at hand. We have been a cause of several deaths - both literal and metaphorical. Let that sink in while you sleep at night.
Profile Image for Anil Swarup.
Author 3 books634 followers
October 16, 2019
This journey of a transgender hits you hard. The life of transgender is rarely the topic of discussion or a book. Here are the travails and tribulations, agonies and tortures of a segment of society that is normally ignored. The pathos comes through eloquently.
Profile Image for Anushree.
204 reviews93 followers
April 28, 2022
This is an absolutely important book. An essential read. It must be a part of educational curriculum.
Profile Image for Sushmita Pedaprolu.
61 reviews12 followers
September 15, 2016
I had earlier read A Revathi's 'The Truth About Me' and it had a profound effect on my life. For me, Revathi and Vidya's stories are not just about transgenders..they are about alienation and the basic human need to be accepted and loved. It is also heartbreaking to read these stories because they highlight the brutality of the society. The pain, the abuse and the ridicule is something that 'normal' people might never understand. I got a glimpse of the insensitive society just yesterday when I finished reading a chapter from this book and my family was watching a sitcom. One of the actors in the show asks his friend if he is a man or a woman. When his friend says he's neither a man or a woman, everybody around him is shocked...it's as if he has murdered someone. It's sad that people come up with this kind of shit in the 21st century.

The next time you see a transgender begging in a train or a street, please take a moment to think about their state. They are literally abused (physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually) and shunned from the society. It is easy to lecture them about finding employment but there are hardly any organizations that are open to hiring transgenders. If you still think they are lazy, then please read this book (And 'The Truth About Me').
7 reviews
October 7, 2020
Translated from Tamil, I am Vidya is the autobiography of Vidya, who identifies as tirunangai (transgender is a close approximation) and relates her journey to womanhood. Published before the NALSA judgement by the Supreme Court of India, Vidya's appeal to be allowed to express her chosen expression of gender is resonant. The autobiography is an important contribution to the emerging literature written by transgender persons documenting theirs lives, activisms, and histories in India.
Profile Image for Bilahari.
185 reviews21 followers
September 16, 2018
"Dalits have a voice, feminists are heard-they can hold rallies, demand their rights. But trans-genders are the Dalits of Dalits, the most oppressed women among women- they enjoy no equality, no freedom, no fraternity. They continue to lead a wretched life, devoid of pride and dignity."
Profile Image for Anagha.
25 reviews
March 27, 2023
How can you find identity of yourself, among the well read and the common man? Identity biologically can be something entirely different, neutrality exists. What from Vidya many can learn is to argue and keep educating the less educated, again and again. It seems Vidya is very proud of the moments she educated or gets educated. Neutrality eats her up, and she leaves her home to find new city dwellers also a job. Find out how? Please read it.
1 review
March 5, 2022
it is a wonderful book which shows the terrible life and sufferings of a transgender. After reading this book, I realize the hard path they'd gone through. this work is amazing. everyone must read it. So that they can know about the true face of transgender and reason for their rude behavior towards people.
Profile Image for Mohan Nath.
11 reviews
June 28, 2017
In this book, vidya narrates her life as a transgender in Indian society. She shows how the transgenders are disgraced in this society. She also revels the ignored lifestyle of transgender in India. She tells how the transgenders are hated and dishonoured by the people in his own land. She explains how she was forced to be a beggar in train and bazaars by the society because of his unemployment. In spite of her skill and his M.A degree she has was unable to have a job only because she was a transgender (what a shame on this society)!. At last, it tells us that "transgenders are human beings, try to respect them"
Profile Image for Akansha  Wasudeo.
10 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2020
It made me think that every person is caught up in their own small world and that world is most paramount for them. Nothing else matters in comparison to ones identity. No amount of cajoling can change a person's views. This is an eye-opener book. It definitely filled me with gratitude for all I am blessed with in life.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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