Meera knew she was a woman since she was 4. But her public assertion and transition into the woman that she always has been, came during the mid-20s. And for Meera, that journey has been quite intense. Instead of bullying and homophobia, Meera spoke about her strengths. She spoke about her mother who supported her throughout, with whom she is also living now. At the time, having graduated as a lawyer, she was working with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and tells us how she found support amongst her comrades and (with a hint of surprise) especially amongst the women in the villages.
I identified as a girl, and I held that close to my heart.
Meera’s journey of accepting her identity was an assertion of her rights and her dignity. For Meera, her need to assert her rights did not stop with herself, or the Trans Community. As one of the current national conveners of the National Alliance of the People’s Movements (NAPM) Meera, speaks to us with conviction about her hopes and goals that she aims to achieve through this platform. The NAPM was a result of the two key events - The Babri Masjid Demolition and the 1991 Liberalization policies. Meera along with her comrades has continued the efforts by the NAPM for close to two decades. Having seen an accelerated erosion of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, the NAPM is doubling down on their efforts to ensure people are aware of the rights they have by virtue of being citizens of this country and that state stakeholders like the government and corporates are forced to take notice.
Our generation is able to assert their rights because of the struggles, violence and trauma faced by the previous generation.
A very articulate individual, Meera spoke passionately about the current state of affairs in the Indian ecosystem. She recognized that some individuals (like her) were more known as the 'faces' of certain movements because of their privilege, access to language, and ability to communicate across diverse groups. But that absolutely did not take away the focus from the movement that the individual was a part of. She said, again and again, nothing can be seen as an individual effort, or a singular isolated act of resistance. And for her, all efforts, allyship, and being a part of the movements were built on the foundation of first acknowledging the true dynamics of the Indian ecosystem, of collective struggle, indulging in basic research, and approaching the issues with a scientific mindset. Everything against normative society, against the established status quo, is political, and that means Individuals also need to be political, but as Meera strongly stressed upon - Be political, but correctly.
It is important to build comprehensive understanding and collective solidarity.
Speaking like someone who knows she would soon pass the baton, she hoped that the younger generation can certainly do better in understanding that all movements need to be in solidarity with each other. She was also hopeful that the new generation could acknowledge that the burdens of Indian society are present within the movements as well and that they have to be the ones to remove the baggage of existing misogyny, patriarchy, caste etc to ensure that collectives and movements are truly inclusive.
We can translate our privilege into responsible action.
Meera had no free time. None at all. Extremely cognizant of her privileges she recognized the responsibilities that come with it. As a transgender person and a human rights activist, she knew she was constantly swimming against the tide, and that as she says is “not romantic at all”. It can be draining, very. But Meera draws her strength from the thousands of people on the margins who have little to no resources but continue to resist.
Almost idolizing their determination, Meera talks about the Adivasis, especially women, fighting for their jal, jangal, zameen, daily wage workers fighting for the bare minimum in terms of living standards, the fisher communities who are constantly seeing increased mechanization destroying their waters and livelihoods, the transgender community’s constant battle for basic rights and dignity. For them, it's a matter of lives. Meera has a crystal clarity of the fact that "losing hope is a privilege" and she refuses to back down.