WHEN THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
Femina|October 2021
She left home to find the freedom to live the way she wanted to - dressing up like a beautiful woman - rather than feel suffocated in the male body she was born with. Transgender activist GAURI SAWANT tells Shraddha Kamdar her story
GAURI SAWANT

At 17, she took matters into her own hands and chose a difficult path to change to match an identity - of a woman - rather than a gender – as a man. Today, Gauri Sawant is a transgender activist, and the founder director of NGO Sakhi Char Chowghi. After she was featured in an ad for adopting a sex worker's daughter, she suddenly found herself in the spotlight, but still struggles with many aspects of this newfound popularity. The lady, who was appointed the goodwill ambassador of the Election Commission in Maharashtra, has only one expectation of her adopted daughter Gayatri – that she be a good human being. Sawant knows that the values she has instilled in her daughter will enable her to respect each and every human being. Today, she has expanded her scope of care to taking care of nine girls. Here, she narrates her story.

“I lost my mother at a very young age. Post her death, my father stopped talking to me. I know that he loved me, but he started ignoring me after Mom's passing because children in our housing society used to tease me, calling me gay. Probably he, being a police officer, could not digest that fact. It was his dream that, since his older kid, my elder sister, was a part of the force, his son would be too.

“In Pune, where we were stationed, my father went to get a tiffin for dinner every night. I still vividly remember the chain of events of the evening that turned my life around. We had an EC brand television set at home, and, that evening, I saw 360 on it. I picked up the money and ran away from home. That was my first tryst with freedom.

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