For the longest time, India’s transgender community has remained isolated from society. With time progressing, more and more people are coming out in open about their sexuality and leading lives of dignity and respect. In a recent clip from the show ‘Hunarbaaz Desh ki Shaan’, a contestant, Harsh, was seen paying tribute to his mother who is a transwoman.
The Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 to recognise transgender people as a third gender was welcomed by the community. While Harsh’svideo was a sincere effort to spread awareness and acceptance, there are couple of transwomen who have been taking steps to transform the society. Here is a list of five famous transwomen who have served as inspiration to many.
Indian stylist Swapnil Shinde announced her transition to Saisha Shinde in January 2021. She admitted she had been ‘debating for the last 5-6 years’ about her transition when she spoke about it. She told ETimes in an interview, “I decided to go public with my transition because I want to be a role model for young boys and girls out there who are dealing with the same issues. We hardly have role models who are openly transgender.” Shinde also designed the gown worn by Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu in the grand finale of ‘Miss Universe Contest 2021’.
Naaz Joshi is a motivational speaker, trans rights activist, and India’s first transgender international beauty queen. Joshi has won three ‘Miss World Diversity’ beauty pageants in a row. She is India’s first transgender cover model, as well as the world’s first trans woman to win an international beauty pageant alongside cisgender women, India’s first transgender show-stopper, and India’s first transgender model. ‘Miss Republic International Beauty Ambassador 2017’ and ‘Miss United Nations Ambassador’ are two other pageants she has won. In an interview with the Indulge Express she revealed that winning this title gives her more power and responsibility towards society, and that she intends to use it to help bring the transgender community into the mainstream. Joshi is the proud mother of two daughters whom she adopted after their families abandoned them.
Model Gauri Arora has been causing a stir in the entertainment industry with her outspokenness and determination to make the LGBTQIA+ community more visible. Arora, formerly known as Gaurav, the hunky ‘Splitsvilla’ contestant, made headlines when she announced his decision to undergo surgery to fully transition into a woman and came out as a trans woman. She has appeared on several reality shows since then, including ‘India’s Next Top Model.’ Despite the fact that she did not win the crown, she became a role model for the community.
Sushant Divgikar is an Indian model, actor, singer, columnist, psychologist, motivational speaker, drag queen, pageant director, and video jockey. In July 2014, they were crowned ‘Mr Gay India 2014’. They represented India at ‘Mr Gay World 2014’, where they won a number of special awards. Divgikar is the first Indian and the first delegate from any country to win a record three individual sub titles and two group sub titles at the ‘Mr Gay World 2014’ contest. They took part in the ‘Bigg Boss 8’ reality show. Divgikar made history by becoming the first drag queen in India to participate in a singing reality show and win the golden buzzer, making Rani / Sushant the first contestant from the LGBTQIA+ community to win a golden buzzer and directly enter the top 15 of the reality competition show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ in 2018. Divgikar has appeared in numerous television shows and has collaborated with the majority of the top broadcasting channels, agencies, and production companies both nationally and internationally.
Actress Anjali Ameer made headlines in the Malayalam film industry when she revealed that she was transgender. She is India’s first openly transgender actress, playing the lead opposite South superstar Mammootty in the Tamil film ‘Peranbu.’ There has been no turning back for her since then. Apart from pursuing her dreams as an actress and model, she made certain that her appearance on the reality television show ‘Bigg Boss Malayalam’ exposed viewers to the challenges faced by the transgender community. She also featured in ‘Suvarna Purushan’ in 2018.
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