Our Voices The Orinam Blog

art: Jessy, my trans amma

Jessy, by Gokul Asokan: mixed media on A3 cartridge paper

I first met Jessy in January 2017, at a queer film festival in Egmore. She was introduced to me by a friend.  It was around 9:30 pm by the time I left the venue after the screening. I began looking for a bus to get home to Tambaram, but wasn’t able to find one. Jessy, who had booked a call taxi, kindly offered me a ride back, as it turned out her home was in the same locality.

On the way, Jessy and I got to talking about our respective genders and sexualities.  I came out to her as gay, and spoke to her about my life and loves. She even counseled me about relationships, asking me to be cautious while choosing guys, and not to get married if I wasn’t interested in women.  We exchanged numbers. During the ride, I kept addressing her as Akka. She, however, asked me to call her Amma. I obliged, but felt a little awkward about it, then.

We continued to stay in touch via phone calls and text messages after that meeting. After one particularly intense conversation, she said “I truly feel like you are my son…  maybe we were mother and son in our previous births.

Over time, I grew more comfortable with calling her Amma. In February, about a month after we first met, she invited me to the home she shared with other trans women (thirunangais), and introduced me to her guru and trans sisters.

One day, as I was showing her my photos of my art work that I had on my phone, she asked me if I would make a sketch of her from one of her favorite photographs. I was happy to do so. She has framed the drawing and kept it with her.

I have encountered many gay guys who harbor fear and disdain for thirunangais. They try to discourage me from meeting Jessy, cautioning me that others will misinterpret my association with her and other thirunangais.

But I don’t care what they say.

She is, after all, my trans amma.

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