Kalki Subramaniam is an Indian transgender activist, artist, poet, actor, and writer. Kalki is the founder of Sahodari Foundation, an organization that works for the social, political, and economic empowerment of transgender people in India. Through her foundation, she teaches art to the transgender community, upholds their rights, and empowers their livelihood through various creative projects. Through ‘Narthaki’, an offbeat Tamil film, she became the first transgender actor in India to do a lead role in a major motion picture.
Kalki is one of the most prominent voices in the LGBTQI community of India and is known for her relentless and fierce activism for establishing social justice and equality for transgender people. Along with her fellow activists, she championed and lobbied for the recognition of the legal rights of transgender people which resulted in the verdict of the Supreme Court of India legally recognizing transgender persons’ rights in 2014. She has received numerous awards for social work, art, film performance, and literary contributions. In 2015, Facebook chose Kalki as one of the 12 inspiring women of the world who use Facebook as a community development platform for empowerment. In 2016, Kalki was nominated by L’Oréal Paris India as the ‘Woman of Worth’ under the arts category. She received a standing ovation for her speech at the India Conference at Harvard University in 2017. She is also the Lifetime Ambassador of TransAmsterdam organization, Netherlands. Kalki lives in India.
Her recent book ‘We Are Not The Others’ is a strikingly moving book that touches the heart of its readers, and takes them on a furious and empathetic journey into the personal lives of transgender people of India. It is a one-of-a-kind book from India’s renowned transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam who blatantly and honestly speaks about the joys, hopes, struggles, and despair of a transgender person, the author herself, and ferociously upholds her dignity and that of others like her. Let’s taalk with Kalki to learn more about her inspiring journey of being an entrepreneur and his new book “We are not others”.
Hi Kalki, Congratulations on your Book launch “We are not others’, Before getting into the book, Can you just taalk about the “one moment ” that transformed you to what you are today?
Thank you. The one moment that transformed my life is the moment when I stood up against the biggest bully in school. During my eleventh standard, every day at my school was hell because of him. I put an end to it by challenging him and showing no fear of him. He was shaken by my confidence and fearlessness. That was the moment I understood your need to stand up for yourself. No one else will do it unless you do it for yourself first.
Human pain is common, but it is unique to every form of human oppression, how can someone translate their pain to someone who hasn’t gone through with it.?
I love this question. Not everyone goes through the transgender experience and understands it. The experience of being abandoned by family, misunderstood by society, struggling everyday for livelihood and then learning and surviving the hard way is tough, but we get some great lessons of life in this experience. Not all of us have the courage to survive. Many of us end our lives.
Ways we could build an empathetic society – which respects every human irrespective of their Gender, Race, Caste or Religion? Which respects everyone’s uniqueness and identity.
Education, when I say that it is the right education, unbiased education.
Do you think Entrepreneurship/Self employment is a way to upward mobility of Transgenders as a community? Your plans to evangelize entrepreneurship.
Yes, absolutely. Entrepreneurship is the way forward and hundreds of transgender people have been already doing business informally. What the community requires is mentorship and I am indeed looking forward to that.
“We are not others” a wonderful title. Can you taalk about the crux of the book
We Are Not The Others’ is a fierce poetic account of my life which also touches and mirrors so many people’s life stories at the same time. It is a collection of my poetry, art, essays, conversations and monologue. It is one of a kind of book born during the second lockdown in 2021. The book is available worldwide and on all Amazon platforms.
Why I should read the book, “We are not others”?
Because there is truth in it, there are stories in it which have never been told,
Your favourite quote ?