Who Is Gauri Sawant? Trans Rights Activist’s Life Inspires Series Starring Sushmita Sen

Sushmita Sen to essay Gauri Sawant's role in a series

The life and struggles of trans rights activist Gauri Sawant has inspired the upcoming web series Taali, starring Sushmita Sen as Sawant, who has spent her life advocating for rights of her community.

Posting the first look of her upcoming series Taali — based on the life of transgender activist Gauri Sawant — Sushmita Sen expressed pride and gratitude for “having the privilege of portraying this beautiful person and of bringing her story to the world”. 

The biopic will follow the journey of Sawant, who adopted a child in 2008 and fought for adoption rights of trans persons. It is being helmed by Marathi filmmaker Ravi Jadhav. Sen also wrote in her post, “Here’s to life and to everyone’s right to live it with dignity.”

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A post shared by Sushmita Sen (@sushmitasen47)

Taali will narrate Gauri’s “story of struggle, resilience, and indomitable power”. The activist left home at the age of 17 with Rs 60 in her pocket. Because her father didn’t accept her identity, she ran away and came to Mumbai. 

“I simply wanted to dress like a woman. I was never comfortable in men’s clothing, I always felt caged in it. Since childhood, when I watched singer Usha Uthup on television, her wrists clanking with an array of bangles, her pallu in her hand, and her characteristic large bindi adorning her forehead, I had dreamt that I would look like that when I grew up,” Gauri told Femina, adding that her dream came true when she met trans persons at Juhu Beach, who made her wear a saree.

With the help of NGO Humsafar Trust, Gauri started earning. She then launched her own NGO ‘Sakhi Char Chowgi’, which provides counselling, and works for the health and employment opportunities for trans persons.

‘Always wanted to be a mother’

Though named Ganesh at birth, the activist later took up his mother’s name instead, while sharing that she “always wanted to be a mother”.

“I was christened Ganesh, after the elephant-headed God. And, when the time came to choose my own name, I chose Gauri, another name for Parvati, Ganesh’s mother. I always wanted to be a mother. In my childhood, when I was asked by a nosy relative at a family function what I wanted to be when I grew up, I distinctly remember saying I wanted  to be an aai,” Gauri said.

In 2001, Gauri would realise her dream while working with sex workers to create awarness around STDs. Here, she met Gayatri. 

According to reports, when the activist heard rumours about Gayarti being sold for sex work after her biological mother’s death, she stepped in.

“My daughter taught me that you don’t need to have a uterus or give birth to a baby, motherhood is all about caring and loving a child. I was happy when people started recognising me for my motherhood,” said Gauri in a video.

Besides fighting for the rights of trans persons to adopt, she also fought for the community to be recognised as the third gender.

She was the first trans person to be made an election ambassador by the Election Commission of India in 2019.

According to a report in Mid-day, shooting for Taali will begin on 10 October. Around 300 transgender artistes have been hired for the series, added the report.

Edited by Divya Sethu

Sources
‘Transgender Activist Gauri Sawant Tells Her Story’ by Shraddha Kamdar for Femina, Published on 13 October, 2021
‘My daughter taught me that motherhood is all about caring: Gauri Sawant’ Published on 30 December 2019 Courtesy The Indian Express
‘The real story of Gauri Sawant, the trans ‘mommy’ from the Vicks video, is even more extraordinary’ by Binjal Shah for Yourstory, Published on 14 April 2017
‘300 transgender artistes to join Sushmita Sen on screen’ by Mohar Basu for Mid-day, Published on 06 October 2022

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