Abhina Aher- A Transgender Activist
From imitating her mother to forming a transgender group of Dancing Queen- Abhina Aher journey is nothing less than an inspiration. LGBTQ in India is a tough topic as many people’s mind has not been enlighten with modernity. They are stuck with the past values which doesn’t make much sense, thus growing up as a transgender is a tough task. But then we see some people who are conquering the so called notions and norms that has been dictating to us- like a boss. One of them is Abhina Aher who shattered all the obstacles and came out like a star.
Abhina Aher’s Journey
Abhina Aher is an Indian transgender activist who has worked for transgender empowerment. Aher was born in Maharashtra and her father died when she was only 3 years of age. She was biologically born as a boy and was given a male name Abhijit. Her mother was a trained Kathak dancer and use to work as a clerk, thus raised the kid all by herself. She often performed at official functions. Abhina used to observe her keenly and tried to imitate her in private. When her mother was not at home, she use to wear her jewelry and drape her saree all around. She practiced dancing by imitating her mother. One day her mother arrived earlier from work and saw her like that. Her mother asked her to stop and made her write 1000 times- “I won’t do it again” but much to her surprise Aher instead wrote “I won’t do it again but I will do it”. It was when Aher was 9 years old that she realized that she is a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. But being a kid she was scared and thought that she was abnormal. She was bullied in school for her feminine character. One day the harassment got to next level and Aher was assaulted and raped by her fellow students. The next day when she tried reporting them to the teacher, much to her surprise, her teacher told her that the boys was trying to correct her and she should behave like a man. This incident traumatized her so much that she didn’t even told her mother about the same fearing the same response.
“She categorically said to me, ‘Your friends are doing this to you because you are behaving in an extremely feminine way and that’s what is an issue”
Till she went to college, Aher was confused about her sexuality and was opposed by almost everyone. To not bring shame to her mother, Aher use to wear boys clothing, watched how she talked or walked. She was forcefully behaving as a boy. After graduating she worked as a software engineer but a part of her always felt incomplete. She was depressed to a state where she tried committing suicide not only once but thrice- luckily she was saved every time. After her third attempt, Aher said that she cannot die and from there starts her main journey of getting all the things right. During this time she saw a first homosexual magazine (Bombay Dost), and bought it. At that time it wasn’t easy to read such magazines out in public, so she sat in public toilet for hours to read the magazine. This was her first encounter to LGBT term. She got to know that she isn’t abnormal and there are many more people like her. She attended the conference of The Humsafar Trust and got to know more about the LGBT community. And after this a sense of isolation drove Aher into the arms of a guru, or mentor, within a community of like-minded souls known as hijras. She served a mother-like figure for her and helped her understand that whatever she is feeling is completely normal and she is fine. And she worked there as a project manager for few years. She urged her mother that she now wanted to live as a women and not like a man anymore. During this period only Aher started transforming herself, her hair grew longer and she went through breast augmentation and castration surgery. After working there for almost 8 years,Aher decided to find new opportunities. But every time she went for an interview, she was rejected over her looks or else asked to change her appearance. In overall basically she was again asked to hide her sexuality. But this time she wasn’t willing to do so. When she was rejected by almost everywhere, apart from sex service nothing else was left for her. For many years she continued working as a sex slave to full fill her basic needs.
Her life changed when she met a person from Johns Hopkins University and was employed by her. There she worked as India HIV/AIDS alliance. And from here there was no looking back. And since then she has achieved several milestones. Today she is a proud global transgender activist and has formed her own group of transgender dancers knows as Dancing Queen.
Today she gives motivation speeches as various renowned colleges and universities, she is TEDx speaker and has traveled overseas to express her gender identity. And today she doesn’t hide her sexuality anymore instead she motivates others to be themselves. Her life story is nothing less than an inspiration and we all should be motivated by her that no matter what you face, there comes a time when you should know and understand what is right and what is wrong for you and at that moment strive for better.