Interview : Human Rights Activist, Simran Shaikh

I have been living with HIV for the past ten years and have developed the capacity of CBOs and networks that work for PLHIV and gender minorities.

Simran Shaikh is a known Human Rights Activist and has been working as programmes officer for the India HIV/AIDS Alliance in Delhi for some years now. Team Gaysi is thankful to Josh Talks for giving us the opportunity to interact with this wonderful community member.

Simran

Q. Please give us a little background about the work you have been doing as an LGBT activist.

I have dedicated my professional life to human rights advocacy and have been a pioneer in India on raising issues faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the context of transgender and hijra communities. I am a strong advocate for the Right to Health for all.

I have been living with HIV for the past ten years and have developed the capacity of CBOs and networks that work for PLHIV and gender minorities. In 1999, I was one of the founding members of Dai Welfare Society; the first community-based organisation for hijras in India. I have served on the governing boards of state and national PLHIV networks. I have been a consultant to national and international organisations on issues of gender and sexual minorities living with HIV and intend to continue my work on health & human rights for the most marginalised communities in the future.

I am a graduate of Mumbai University, and am currently working with India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi as a Programme Officer for Pehchan, a Global Fund-supported initiative strengthening community systems for MSM, transgender and hijra CBOs to improve HIV prevention outcomes in India.

Q. You spoke at length during the Josh Talk about the familial abandonment that usually comes when a young boy decides to join the Kinnar community. Do you think that situation has changed for young Hijras in the past ten years?

Yes it has changed to some extent. Today’s young Hijras are being accepted by their biological parents, but the ratio is very low. In fact, we can count them on our fingers. Hence while there is a change in acceptance, there needs to be a greater degree of it from the biological parents of Trans individuals.

Q. Thank you for all the advocacy you do through shows like Satyamev Jayate and speaking at different venues, trying to give insight into the life and economic conditions of the Hijra community. How has your work as an activist changed after the show?

TV (Media) always plays an important role in today’s world. Shows like Satyamev Jayate, Josh Talks and Documentaries on NDTV has changed the mind-set of society towards Trans individuals but the impact is still on a lower side. My work as an activist has definitely changed. I have now become even more effectual.

Q. Has the NALSA judgement made much difference to the lives of the Hijra community? Is there greater acceptance and ease?

I would rather say the NALSA judgement has only supported to the cause of making a difference in the lives of Hijra Communities. Many Hijras are still struggling for the doors of acceptance and Opportunities to Open. Talking about the ease and greater acceptance however, is still a big question mark. Yes there are Trans people who have got some acceptance like the first trans women to be a principal and a police officer respectively, but those are just a handful. The actual scenario still differs.

Q. Can you give us some insight into what you would like to achieve in the next few years?

The actual implementation of NALSA Judgement. No more Trans phobic and Homophobic society. A better world for all human beings!

This video was recorded at Josh Talks Gurgaon, held on 28th February 2015 at Excelsior American Auditorium, Gurgaon.

About the author

Revathy Krishnan

Remedied former wild child. Zero tolerance for bull shit. Obsession for punk rock and prawns. Will challenge the hell out of the status quo. Labels to me are what Kryptonite was to that flying dude. Architect of castle-sized dreams.