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Empowering Sexuality

Vikas comes from a poor family - his father died when he was just two months and his mother supported him and his two older sisters by rolling tobacco for beedies.

From a young age, Vikas enjoyed dressing in girl’s clothes and experimenting with make-up while he was home alone. Entering his teens, he realized he was also physically attracted to men.

With his sisters already married, his family started pressuring him to also tie the knot and after much persuasion he reluctantly agreed. He was 20.

The day immediately after his wedding, Vikas fled his home. His wife waited 15 days for him to return after which she returned to her own family. Vikas was away for eight months before being greeted by his sister and mother at Ahmednagar bus stand. The homecoming was short-lived as all his family, except his mother, gradually started to freeze him out. His in laws then filed a case of fraud against him and asked for alimony which Vikas could not afford, so they started harassing him. His situation left him feeling completely hopeless.

Then an MSM friend took him to Dayyar (a transgender commune) in Aurangabad where he came out as a full transgender (TG). His guru gave him the confidence wear a saree in public and gave him the right to beg. (The Guru Chela system is a self-organized support network for transgenders and many chelas (daughters) can be seen carrying out basti collections at roadsides and on trains.) Vikas started his life as a TG by begging at his maternal uncle’s place.

Three years after marrying, Vikas lost his mother. Completely deserted by his family members, he returned to Ahmednagar and started living at the bus stand. He sought a new partner every night and earned money by doing casual day-to-day labour.

In 2005, he met our Snehjyot social workers. Mistrustful of them, he initially avoided them. Eventually he realized they were concerned about his well-being and started engaging with them, becoming well acquainted with our work. He became such an expert that we invited him to become a peer educator in 2006, raising awareness of health and hygiene and counselling and supporting the MSM community that congregates around the bus stand, finally earning the respect of society for his social work.

In 2008, Vikas was dealt a devastating blow when he contracted HIV from his partner. He lost all hope again but this time our team was there to counsel and give him moral support, helping him to secure treatment at the local government hospital. He is now on regular anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and works full time with us as a social worker, leading by example and sharing his own experiences to help us support and campaign for the rights of our MSM and TG communities.

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