Kalki was born in a conservative South Indian Brahmin family, not as a daughter but a son.
For the traditional Subramaniam family, the arrival of their first son after two beautiful daughters was celebrated with unprecedented joy. And while the family’s happiness was unbound, what followed for the young boy was 13 years of absolute struggle, termed as gender dysphoria in modern-day terms. A tumultuous conflict between his physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he identified.
At 13, he knew he couldn’t identify with being a boy and shared this perplexing feeling with his mother. But like most other kids who face similar struggles, he was told to “forget about it”.
School and college weren’t easy. Bullied for having feminine traits, neither could he fit among the girls, nor would the boys befriend him.
And while you may think this kind of ostracisation would lead to a mental breakdown and loss of confidence among most kids, it didn’t deter the teenager. The disapproval and the anger became the driving force for him to become successful.
Kalki tells The Better India, “Isolation made me stronger. As I was alone, the only recourse left to me was to lose myself in studies. Coming from a family of highly educated people, academics came naturally to me. It is education that has helped me to become who I am.”
A double postgraduate-degree holder with one degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and another in International Relations, this once-troubled teenager moved to work with a multinational company.
Once financially independent, he underwent SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery).
That’s how the teenager conflicting with his identity become noted actor-writer-activist, Kalki Subramaniam.
Today, even as Kalki continues to bask in the glory of being one of the most successful and celebrated transgender activists in the country, she knows that for thousands of youngsters with similar struggles nothing has changed, at least not social attitudes.
To transform these lives, Kalki set up the Sahodari Foundation, which works for the social, economic and political empowerment of transgender persons in India.
Sahodari welcomes funders to support their project initiatives. Join in on Kalki’s journey and show her your support and do your part in helping the community achieve their dreams.
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Kickstarted in 2008, Sahodari introduced several progressive initiatives, ranging from economic empowerment programmes to performance art projects and even an exclusive matrimonial website for trans persons.
From being invited to several universities in the United States to becoming one of Facebook’s 12 most inspiring women to use social media as a community empowerment platform and playing the lead character in the feature film Narthaki, Kalki has done it all!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)