Laxmi Narayan Tripathi belongs to the oldest ethnic transgender community, the Hijras. She is a leading voice of change for the transgender movement and has provided trans representation internationally. She is a Bharatnatyam dancer, a human rights activist and the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008. In her TED Talk, she speaks about self-love, the transgender movement and how it’s good to be bad sometimes.
Laxmi opens her speech by talking about how far transgender rights have come since her days in college. She remembers how it was so difficult for her to even use the restroom, for fear of sexual assault. She explains the concept of sexuality through her own experience. “My own sexuality is like the Ganges: pure; and it can take many turns in life,” she says.
She reminisces about how Indian culture was beautiful and accepting, and how all occupations and sexualities were respected. She also talks about how self-acceptance is extremely important. When asked when she “realised” she was different, she replied, “Hallelujah, I was never different.” She hilariously explains how she answers questions that she gets about coming out, and about her identity as a transgender woman. She says, “This is the way I was; I was as normal as any man or woman.” Talking about women’s rights, she shed light on the fact that marginalised communities aside, educated women too don’t know about all their rights, and are stuck underneath the patriarchal notions of what they are supposed to be, and what they are supposed to do.
According to Laxmi, the most important thing is self-love. She asks the audience, “How many times do we make time to sit and love ourselves? We don’t! Because we are never taught.” “Until and unless you love yourself, how will you love others unconditionally? It is all about giving.”
“Sometimes, it’s good to be bad”, she says. “I was like, ‘Aaaah I need my rights’, and so I got my rights.” One of the most important lessons Laxmi learnt was, “Knowledge is power. Acquire knowledge, but the right knowledge”. She ends her incredible speech, saying, “The strength everyone should have is the strength not to surrender… I believe neither religion, nor God, nor any energy you believe in… would discriminate against any soul… because we are all children of the Almighty.”