Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is an Indian transgender rights activist, dancer, and writer. She is known for being the chief, or Acharya Mahamandaleshwar of Kinnar Akhara, an organization promoting Hinduism and LGBTQ+ community in India. She is also considered a demigod.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi was born on Wednesday, 13 December 1978 (age 42 years; as of 2020) at Dr Malatibai Chitnis Hospital, Thane, Maharahtra. Her zodiac sign is Sagittarius. She did her schooling from Bims Paradise English High School in Kopri, Thane. She obtained her graduation in arts and post-graduation in Bharatnatyam from Mumbai’s Mithibai College.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Laxmi was born into an orthodox Brahmin family and was assigned a male at her birth. Although she was born a Hindu, she believed in Sufism (a form of Islamic mysticism) and used to visit Saint Haji Malang’s shrine (Malanggad) near Kalyan every year during the annual urus. However, she started practising Hinduism after the 2014 Supreme Court ruled transgender to be the third gender in India.
Parents & Siblings
Her mother’s name is Vidyavati Tiwari. His parents hail from Uttar Pradesh.
She is the eldest of the three children of her parents; she has a brother named Shashinarayan and a sister named Rukmini. According to her, in the Hijra (eunuchs, intersexual, or transgender people) community, there is a custom of Guru (mentor) and Chelas (disciple). A guru is like a parent to the Chelas. Her Guru’s name is Lata.
Relationships, Husband & Children
She was married to a man named Vicky Thomas. However, things between them started going wrong when Vickey started getting abusive and they both broke up.
She was eventually drawn to Aryan Pasha, a transmale bodybuilder, who was her friend and 14 years younger than her. After being friends with each other for years, Laxmi and Aryan announced their relationship in 2018 and got engaged in 2019.
She has adopted two children and lives in Thane.
As a Dancer
When she completed her dance training in Bharatnatyam, she came to know about Ken Ghosh (Indian film director and screenwriter), who was making music videos, and she auditioned for it and bagged the role of a dancer. She was a part of several Ken Ghosh dance videos. Later, she became a choreographer herself. She has also worked as a bar dancer and was very famous. She had several admirers who came from across the city to watch her dance. However, her fame was short-lived as the then Home Minister of Maharashtra R. R. Patil decided to close down city’s dance bars. Laxmi protested a lot against the move but lost in the end.
Journey as an Activist
In 1998, while she was working as a model coordinator, she became close to a trans named Shabina and came to know about the Hijra community through her and chose to become a Hijra. Talking about it, she said,
I went to Byculla where the head of Shabina’s Lashkar Gharana, Lata Naik, held court. Nervous and unsure, I finally gathered the courage to ask those assembled there, “I want to become a chela. How much is the fee?” To my surprise, they all burst out laughing. Lata guru, who went on to become my guru, said, “There is no fee, child. If you want to become my chela, come.” My initiation ceremony, the reet, followed soon after – I was given two green saris, which are known as Jogjanam saris signifying the inculcation into a new way of life, and crowned with the community dupatta.”
She started her journey as an activist when she lost one of her friends because she did not receive proper medical treatment in a hospital (being a transgender). Laxmi has served on the boards of several NGOs working for LGBT rights. In 2002, she became the president of the NGO ‘DAI’M Welfare Society,’ which is known to be the first registered and working organization for eunuchs in South Asia.
In 2007, she established Astitiva Trust, an organization promoting the welfare of sexual minorities, their support and development.
Soon, she left India for the first time and headed to Toronto, Canada for the Asia Pacific sex workers network. She was one of the petitioners who filed for the recognition of the third gender in India, which became a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India, declaring transgenders the ‘third gender,’ affirming them with equal fundamental rights as any other gender in India. Along with it, the court also ordered the government to provide them with quotas in jobs and education, construction of third washrooms, and creation of health departments. They were also entitled to adopt children and after reassignment surgery identify with their gender of choice.
When Ashok Rao Kavi started to appeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (which made homosexuality a crime), Laxmi also joined his team.
In Television & Films
Laxmi has appeared as a guest in many popular Indian reality shows. In 2011, she was a participant in the reality show Bigg Boss: Season 5; she was evicted after six weeks.
She also came as a guest in ‘Sach Ka Samna with Rajeev Khandelwal,’ ’10 Ka Dum’ with Salman Khan and ‘Raaz Pichle Janam Ka.’ In Sach Ka Samna, it was the first time India saw a transgender person on TV with their parents.
In 2005, she starred in an award-winning documentary ‘Between the Lines: India’s Third Gender.’
In 2011, she was featured in Project Bolo, another documentary series about LGBT Indians, which was released in DVD format.
In 2011, Laxmi starred in the award-winning Hindi-language drama film about Hijras ‘Queens! Destiny Of Dance’ as ‘Lajo,’ along with Seema Biswas; the film marked her Bollywood debut.
She was also seen in another Bollywood Film ‘Upeksha ‘as ‘Kinnar Rani’ and the film was released in 2019. In 2011, she was also seen in the Canadian-French documentary TV series ‘Le sexe autour du monde’ in the segment ‘Inde.’
As a Writer
She turned writer with her autobiographical book ‘Me Hijra, Me Laxmi’ in 2015.
She wrote her second book in 2016 titled ‘Red Lipstick: The Men in My Life’ along with the writer Pooja Pande.
- In November 2018, Laxmi showed her support to the building of Ram Temple at the site of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. Following her support for the temple, a statement was issued by Indian trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals and groups who condemned Laxmi. According to the statement,
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a dominant-caste brahmin trans woman, has been appealing to Hindutva ideology and justifying the existence of the caste system in India ever since she began aspiring for a political position within the current ruling party. Her position negates the politics of communal harmony that is espoused by Hijras and Kinnars, who have historically maintained a syncretic faith of belonging to both Hinduism and Islam. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi’s position idealises a mythical past of the Sanatan Dharam and supports the right-wing politics of communal hatred in the guise of ‘we were always accepted.”
- In 2019, Laxmi gave a public talk organized by Democratic Secular Students’ Forum (DSSF). After her public talk, The TISS Queer Collective (a student club at TISS, Mumbai) issued a statement and expressed their disapproval and disagreement, alleging that she asked full names of the students to know their caste and geographical location and also made queer students on campus feel ‘unsafe and threatened’, especially by statements she made like “we will build the temple wherever Ram was born.” The Collective stated,
The speaker did injustice to the aim of the talk by not discussing aspects of identity, inclusion and employment of individuals from queer communities within the wider politics of the state. We believe that such statements act as a thin veil through which a threatening and casteist ideology of Hindutva lays bare. The same ideas ring through her insistence on referring to the scriptures of Hinduism, which according to her are progressive and inclusive, and the adoption of completely subjective narratives of religion, scriptures, law, and science. Gender and sexuality do not work independently; they are embedded in the structures of language, religion, caste, class, geography and indigeneity. We empathize with Laxmi for the hardships she has faced because of her gender identity. At the same time we criticize her for using the same to deny the existence of casteism.”
- In his childhood, he was known as ‘Raju’ by his family members and relatives.
- From a very young age, she liked to dance and used to dance to Bollywood numbers. She also used to actively participate in her school and college functions.
- According to her, she was named Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi even before her birth. Her grandfather, a pandit, had said to her mother that she will bear seven children but only three of them will be able to make it.
- When she was a child, she was very sick (suffering from Asthama) and very feminine, which made her a subject of mockery among her peers. According to her, she even faced sexual abuse from a distant cousin and his friends until she pledged not to suffer their abuses anymore. She also faced many hardships while studying as people called her ‘Chhakka,’ ‘Gur,’ and other derogatory names, and was abused by many men.
- Earlier, she used to think that she was a gay and everyone called her a ‘homo.’ When she was in Class 5, she contacted the only publicly gay person she knew — Ashok Row Kavi. He told her that nothing was wrong with her and she was not different, instead Ashok told her to focus on her education, both academics and dance.
- According to her, she did her Arangetram in Bharatnatyam when she was in the sixth standard, and by the seventh, she had opened her own dance academy and began working as a model coordinator.
- In Project Bolo, she stated that she got breast augmentation but did not go through any hormone therapy.
- According to her, her parents found out about her sexuality when they saw her fully decked up in women’s attire in a television show. It was shocking for them and they had started to look at marriage proposals for him. In an interview with the BBC, her father was asked about his thoughts on his child’s sexuality, and he responded,
if my child was handicapped would you even ask me whether I’d have asked him to leave home? And just because his sexual orientation is different?”
- Laxmi was one of the first transgender people that represented Asia-Pacific in the UN President’s Office Civil Society Task Force on HIV/AIDS in 2008.
- In 2017, she was awarded the title of ‘Indian of the Year.’
- Laxmi is a member of the Bill Gates Foundation and also a visiting faculty member at the School of Dance and Theatre at Amsterdam.
- She has also walked the ramp for Bombay Times Fashion Week 2019, Lakme Fashion Week 2016, and India Runway Week 2016.
- In 2018, she launched her own packaged drinking water brand ‘Kineer,’ along with Manish Jain.
- In 2019, her religious movement, ‘Kinnar Akhada,’ became the first transgender group to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers on the first day of the ancient festival Kumbh Mela, which is traditionally reserved for reclusive Hindu priests, almost all of whom are men.
- She has tattoos on both of her hands; in one of her hands is a tattoo of her face.
- She is an avid dog lover and has a pet dog.