Phenomenal Woman: Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Queer Rights Activist and Bharatanatyam Dancer:

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi at JLF Melbourne on a panel “Gender and the Spaces Between”

“But it was the world that thought I was different, so the problem is with the world. Not me.”

Born a Kinner (the Hindi term for Non-Cisgender people) and the eldest child to an orthodox Brahmin family in Maharashtra, India. Laxmi studied the arts at Mithibai College of Arts and received a postgraduate degree in Bharatanatyam, a traditional Indian dance style that originates from Tamil Nadu.

She worked as a choreographer and dancer, starring in several dance videos made by the director and screenwriter, Ken Gosh, and admired bar dancer.

Her dancing career was short-lived when the Maharashtrian government danced to shut down these dance bars. It sparked her career in activism.

In 2002 she became president of the NGO DAI Welfare Society, the first registered and working organization for Kinners and eunuchs in South Asia.

Through the 2010s, she fought alongside Queer Indians to help repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, an old law from British colonial time’s that banned consensual sex between partners of the same sex.

It was then, Laxmi came out to the world as a Kinner on national television, donning makeup and “women’s” clothing.

She, along with her fellow activists petitioned the Indian Supreme Court to give legal recognition to people who identify as “Third Gender” (the Indian term for Trans people, Non-Binary people, and Intersex people).

The petition was accepted in April 2014. Following which governments ordered to construct third washrooms and create health departments to take care of transsexual medical needs. Third Gender People were also given the right to adopt children and, after reassignment surgery, identify with their gender of choice.

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