Britindia has established a partnership of cultural activism with Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the foremost kinnar (hijra) transgender rights activist of India, High Priestess of her community, a Hindi film actor and bharatanatyam dancer.
Laxmi is a guest of X-Drifts 2017. She is the keynote speaker for Queer Asia Conference 2017 at SOAS, University of London and appears in GHAT Together. GHAT (Gender Here And There) is associated with Stonewall and Club Kali.
Laxmi was born and brought up in Thane, Maharashtra. She comes from an orthodox Brahmin family and has an arts degree and postgraduate degree in Bharatanatyam from Mumbai’s Mithibai College.
Laxmi was the first transgender to represent the Asia-Pacific region at the UN in 2008. She has sat on the boards of many NGOs and in 2007 established Astitva, an organisation for the support and development of sexual minorities. In 2015, she became High Priestess of the Kinnar Akhara and in December of 2016, Astitiva produced Ram Katha, a nine day religious public event led by guru Morari Bapu, dedicated to the transgender community, in which, references to transgenders in Hindu religious texts were highlighted. It was the first time the kinnar community had been included in such a religious setting.
Laxmi was one of several petitioners in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment that recognised the ‘third gender’ in 2014. She is a member of the core committee set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for Transgender Rights and Upliftment. She has given a number of Ted Talks. At the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2016, she launched her biography, Me Hijra, Me Laxmi, published by Oxford University Press.
Laxmi’s Without Women Dancing Group are sassy kinnars who perform folk dances, mainly from Maharashtra, in a cheeky, impudent manner.