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The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The Truth About Me is the unflinchingly courageous and moving autobiography of a Hijra (Eunuch) who fought ridicule, persecution and violence both within her home and outside to find a life of dignity. Revathi was born a boy, but felt and behaved like a girl. In telling her life story, Revathi evokes marvellously the deep unease of being in the wrong body that plagued her ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 312 pages
Published October 5th 2011 by Penguin Global (first published July 10th 2010)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  289 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book was a special read for me in a few ways. It was recommended by a good friend over here and very first autobiography read for me. This book developed a liking for autobiographies in me, earlier I was not preferring to read them as I presume that they are not my cup of tea rather I would say gripping type of books, but I was proved wrong.

Truth about me is originally a Tamil book being translated by V. Geetha. This was a commendable and courageous effort by A. Revathi to write her own sto
Sidharthan Kannan
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A honest self-portrait that makes the struggles of people who dare deviate from societal norm hit you on your face.

Revathi is completely candid in this compelling book. She does not shy away from telling us everything, including her own faults. This level of candour, perhaps coupled with the fact that I had the good fortune of reading this book in her native Tamil - Vellai Mozhi - takes this book to another level. Her story feels very valid and very important and deserves to be read a lot more.
Balaji Mani
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
நாம கறகாத/கேடகாத/படிககாத/அறியபபடாத விஷயஙகள எவவளவோ உணடு, இவவுலுகம முதல அணடம வரை....
அதெலலாம ஒரு புறம இருநதாலும, நாம தினம சநதிககும மனிதரகளில, மூனறாவதாக ஒரு பாலினம இருககிறது எனறும , அநத மனிதரகள தினபபடி வாழககையை
ந(கர)டததும விதமும எபபடி எனபதை அறிவோமா??
அவரகளின பிறபபு தெரியும, ஆனால அவரகளின வாழவும/இறபபும அவவளவு எளிமையானதாக இருபபதிலலை எனபது தெரியுமா ?...அதை அறிநதுகொளள ஆரவம ஏறபடடு, அநத ஆரவம தநத உநதுதலில தேடி, அது ஒரு அரவானியின சுயசரிதையை படிபபதில நிவரததியானது.

"வெளளை மொழி" எனற தனவரலாறை, நாமககலலை சேரநத "ரேவத
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story is the autobiography of Revathi

Revathi’s ‘truth’ is the first of such to be published in English: at once an illuminating, and a scarring read, that leaves you changed. Hijras are a community of people who are born men, but feel they are women, and so live as such. What differentiates them from eunuchs, or other transsexual people is their culture, to be a hijra is to live in a community with other hijras, where you have a mother figure (a guru), sisters
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found this an incredibly compelling book. At times I couldn't put it down, at other times I had to shut the book and walk away in horror, anger, and disgust. The author is brutally honest about her life, her tragedies, and yes, her mistakes. The ending is abrupt. The language is stark and simple.

By the end, I feel like I knew this woman, understood why she made the choices she made, even when the results were painful and maybe ill-concieved. But who among us hasn't made mistakes? Who wouldn't
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book was very insightful about the condition of the hijra community. In novels and books, there would just be fleeting paragraphs about this. I was curious to know and I'm much moe aware now. The book gets repetitive a little in the middle but it picks up and is definitely worth a read!
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is sobering to read this in the backdrop of the women's marches all around the world. I picked this book to count as one of the categories of the 2017 Book Riot and had no idea with would be this heavy. This is the first LGBT-South Asia book I've read and I can't imagine the resilience one might need to survive as a transgender person in India. This book was eye-opening and humanizing, and I can imagine sociologists and economists would be really interested in the economic rituals of hijra ki ...more
Nandini Vishwanath
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up to learn more about the Hijra community. Safe to say, I learned something if not everything that I was looking for. In fact, I'm not sure what I was looking for. The story begins well - the background is great, Doraiswamy's feelings of being a woman are well-articulated, however, somewhere you lose sympathy for the protagonist. I know this should be a book review and not a character dissection of the book's character (it's an autobio of sorts). However, by the end of the bo ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, lgbtqi
Although I've known of the existence of Aurobind/Hijra culture, this is the first memoir I've encountered translated into English (the original is in Tamil). All those interested in human rights, sexual, and gender minorities will find Revathi's story both familiar and moving. For me, it was also very educational, as Revathi describes Aurobind/Hijra cultural practices and their differences from place to place. The beginnings of Sangoma, included towards the end of the book, also point toward a t ...more
Samir Dhond
Aug 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Samir by: media
I picked up the book because I read an article in the newspaper about the launch of the book recently. The article was written with much compassion and since the book was quite famous in Tamil, I wanted to read if it was written for sensationalism or it came across as a sincere attempt to tell an unusual story.

The book is well written and translated. It has many details about life in Namakkal and in the cities wherever Revathi has lived. The book is tragic and hard to read at times. I mean, it
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I picked this one to learn more about the community and was also curious. Got to know certsin things and how their life is. Its not easy for them. I couldn't finish reading the book as I found it a bit disturbing. Still managed to read half or 3/4th of it. I don't usually leave books halfway but couldn't help this time.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good revealation about sexual discrimination. As conventional we hardly think about the being just the physical appearance however we still admire internal beauty....without waighing about our own shallow philosophy....
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it
An eyeopening book regarding the condition of transgenders in India. There are parts of the book that will make you squirm and make you really uncomfortable. But a very honest narration nevertheless.
Kunjila Mascillamani
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is very important because of the voice it is making people listen to and also for the distinct style of writing that the author has employed. Just like how women's writing finds a language of its own, this book can be seen as an attempt to explore the transgender language. Portions from the book i would like to quote.

For exposing the kind of discrimination faced by hijras from the time they are in school and to understand how important it is to sensitize especially children about vario
Kari Trenten
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A.Revathi tell the story of her life in her own words about how she grew up female trapped in a male form, along with the pressure, ridicule, and violence she endured from her family and the community around her, trying to convince her she was really male. Often she fled from them to find a refuge among the hijras, a subculture of transsexual women similar to herself, misunderstood, abused, and finding solace in each other, creating lives of meaning and ritual in their own communities. The narra ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Convinced as I was that Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi’s is a unique story, I looked around for more on the day to day life of the street hijra.
And this book was like a punch in the solar plexus. “The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story” by A.Revathi. The poignancy and humiliation of a life lived without any certainties, without even being accorded the status of a human being cannot be overstated. Physical abuse began at home. Beatings, sexual abuse by ‘friends’, confusion about identity, Revathi bring
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-biographies
What a book it was! In one sense it was educational; I have always known them as bothering/demanding people on streets and dont want to do any other work but this book was a real eye opener. It was raw, it was real, it was heart breaking. Revathi now has my respect; her life was full of struggles but she never gave up. She took up the lowliest job to feed her stomach but only because the society has not let her live any other way. I feel angry not at her but the way the men of this society behav ...more
This was a really worthwhile read. I loved the narrative voice Revathi and her translator convey: warm and personal, as if you were sitting down to drink tea with her, but not overly familiar or confessional - you aren't her *very best friend* taking tea with her. The tone is almost mentorly: explaining, assuming goodwill on your part, but not focused on justifying herself. Even as she recounts her early life and struggles, there's a strong narratorial presence of the older Revathi. At times she ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book has deeply described every aspect of a Hijra life. It can change the perspective of a person towards Hijras. The way they suffer throughout their life, a person like us would not be able to do so. This book has given the naked & bitter truths of our society that fora couple of times I stopped reading it. The way she has depicted every scene is very hard to read. But compelled its reader to know further about her life, about their lives.
This is an amazing book and would definitely re
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
The idea of this book is fascinating, the execution not so much. It was interesting to read about her past life and what happened to her but the writing was clunky (maybe it's the fault of the translation and the original in Tamil flows better). The book didn't elaborate enough on the author's motivations or feelings during her story. I did not understand why she did a lot of what she did or her thought process.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: list-2017
One can't truly understand Revathi's life and her grit even after reading this book however, this book sets one of the journey to look around, question our own reactions, interactions with others like Revathi. I am glad I read this book and would encourage others to pick it up!
Sangeeta K
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A tragic book that really was very relatable in terms of societal expectations, but the end was too abrupt, and it seems very morbid. It makes me want to interact with more of the sexual minorities in India, and perhaps help them.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
The translation is a bit clumsy, but other than that, the emotional core of the book is rock solid, an excellent first-hand account of the hijra experience with an insight into the function of Indian culture and gender norms.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: transformative
A must read account of one woman's life, who happens to be Hijra.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I only recently came across this book when Bindu added it to her ‘to-read’ books in Goodreads. Luckily for me, it was available in my library. Normally, most of the really good books aren’t available there- so, I was quite happy. Although I wasn’t sure that the book itself would be something that I would enjoy but I was curious, to be honest.

Hijras have always inspired fear and a bit of apprehension in me since I was a child. For some reason, they always made me uncomfortable, as long as I can r
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
'The Truth About Me' is an autobiography written in Tamil by Revathi, a hijra social activist based in Bangalore. The translated English text makes her heartbreaking and eye-opening story accessible to non-Indians, as well as Indians, which is particularly significant given the linguistic diversity in India. Revathi's story is unique because it depicts first-hand insider accounts of the hijra community. Though I'm not well-versed in literature on hijras and hijra culture, I believe most availabl ...more
Ashmi Krishnan
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've always been wary of transgenders who beg for a living as they seemed pushing and bullish in their approach. As a kid I always questioned my parents as to why they're seen begging or why they look "different", while they did try to explain it me as a kid, as I got older, I could sense the sympathy my parents had for them when they spoke of transgendered people. Before reading this book, I was definitely aware of the challenges this community goes through just to survive each day and be accep ...more
Kaushik Viswanath
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an autobiography that could have been more sharply written and either more deeply reflective or explanatory. This book, however, seems to have been written not with a view towards satisfying all the readers' curiosities or literary sensibilities, but with the aim of plainly recounting the author's life as she chooses to tell it. Revathi refrains, for the most part, from making broad social commentary and always speaks for herself, never on behalf of the transgender community. Her person ...more
Nandini Pradeep J
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Truly a tale like none other! One which tells you how much more stranger can reality be than fiction!
It pains my heart to have finished this book; it pains me even more to think that in reality there are thousands of Revathis out there and none of us have done anything for any of them. While we live in our cocoons of comfort, they suffer the vilest of crimes and saddest of cruel are we, really?!
Revathi's story reads like a work of fiction, sans all the prototypical imageries (if th
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
One friend described the Hijras of India as sin-eaters. With their power to bless and curse and their uncertain (to the outsider) gender and sexual identities, they are equally feared and loathed. They are the scapegoats. Their traditional role in society - showing up at weddings and births to give their blessing - is often described as mere extortion, while many Hijras end up begging on trains or performing sex work to survive.

The Truth About Me is an autobiography of a Hijra, shedding light o
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“Men and even women stared at us and laughed, and heckled us. I realized what a burden a hijra's daily life is. Do people harass those who are men and women when they go outwith their families? Why, a crippled person, a blind person -- even they attract pity and people help them. If someone has experienced physical hurt, they are cared for both by the family and by outsiders who come to know of it. But we -- we are not considered human.” 2 likes
“Sex work was considered a crime, which is why if a rowdy grabbed one of us in the streets, or bundled us into an auto, there was no one to take our side. In fact, from our perspective, there was no difference between a police and a rowdy. They both behaved in a similar way.” 0 likes
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