Wishing all you folks at home a happy and safe International Transgender Day of Visibility! Let the current global crisis not dampen your fearless fabulous spirit. The world right now all the love you can offer. We might be unable to take the streets but we can occupy the online space during this challenging time. Let us strengthen our ties with trans and non-binary community members who have proactively worked to create a safe world for everyone, be it through zany artworks, heart-wrenching life experiences, valuable tips, or the power of humor.
Here are our picks of the 12 trans and non-binary folx that deserve your love on queer-o-sphere!
Mx. Dan Rebello
Dan is that extra-cool teacher you had in school that inspired you by keeping things real. An educationist by profession, Dan is equally active in the Mumbai queer circuit. They co-founded the Thane Queer Collective in 2019. This initiative has arranged potlucks, open mics, and other cool events to bring a sense of unity among the local folks. Dan has also spoken on issues ranging from gender-conformity, misgendering, and the trans bill on platforms like Keeping It Queer with Navin Noronha and Vice India. Their Instagram profile queer_rave, is packed with an equal measure of quirk, cuteness, and care.
Dan has begun a yearlong fundraiser for their top surgery by putting their artworks on sale. Show them your love (and your money) NOW!
Forces of fascism will never hold Ardra back! The Bengaluru-based freelance graphic designer caught national attention in February after they were arrested while countering a right-wing protest against activist Amulya Leona. The primary charge? Holding a placard that demanded equal justice for persecuted minorities including Kashmiris. A month after their arrest, Ardra was granted bail on March 24 by the Sessions Court. Their spirit inspires us to never give up the fight for our rights.
Teenasai Balamu AKA Grapeguitarbox
We are so much in love with non-binary musician Teenasai AKA Grapeguitarbox that we featured them not once but twice on Gaysi! The artist slayed in 2019 with their singles Run and Wait for You, available on Spotify and YouTube. Teenasai can belt both a Carnatic tune and a Taylor Swift anthem without missing a note! Their journey has been covered by Rolling Stone India, YourStory, and… us (duh!). Check out their Spotify profile here.
Passionate. Vocal. Beautiful. Provocative. These are some words that come to mind when you land on Meera Singhania-Rehani’s Instagram profile. Not one to hold back her mind, Meera has time and again discussed uncomfortable truths people don’t want to hear, such as sexual abuse, mental health, and school bullying. Besides this, she’s totally werking it in her fabulous photoshoots. She’s such a babe – go check her Instagram profile out!
We are mighty proud of Adam Reddy, India’s first transman pilot. The 21-year old developed a passion for the skies early on and got himself enrolled in Skylark Aviation Academy, Johannesburg. The journey wasn’t smooth always and he was rejected by academies because he was transgender. Fortunately, Rajiv Gandhi Institute accepted him for a Commercial Pilot Training course for 3 years and the state government awarded him a scholarship to pursue his dreams. While he is gunning to fly, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s Medical Assessment Board has created a fresh setback. They deemed him unfit to fly for six months until they receive medical clearance. The systemic transphobia can be harsh and degrading and Adam is truly a hero for all for sticking to his guns. Follow his Instagram Pilotadamharry.
Scroll through Shweta Vaidya’s Instagram profile to get a glimpse of what it’s like navigating the world as a trans person. Various topics are addressed, from pressures of dressing up to airport struggles, the importance of pronouns, etc. Shweta’s account is a safe space for all genders.
Grace Banu is one of the most recognized faces for Dalit and trans activism. Facing severe caste and gender identity-based discrimination throughout childhood, Grace fought all odds and completed her engineering from Tamil Nadu. She has been actively working in transgender activism particularly in securing special reservations in education, employment, and politics. She is the founder-director of Project Mukti’s Trans Rights Now Collective, a Dalit Bahujan Adivasi centered collective of trans persons to empower community members.
To know more about Trans Rights Now Collective, click here.
Kiran is a disability and transgender activist based in Bengaluru. Kiran left his village in Andhra Pradesh following severe harassment and violence. Since moving to Bengaluru, he initiated several support groups at the grassroots such as Nisarga and Karnataka Vikalachetanara Sanghatane that work towards sexuality, gender, and disability issues. Kiran has been invited to speak at several public events since then. His recent talk can be viewed here.
Nithu is the gorgeous beauty queen from Bangalore who was crowned Miss Trans Queen India 2019. She also represented the country at the Miss International Queen 2020 beauty pageant in Thailand this March. Her talent and intelligence know no bounds; she is also self-trained semi-classical, Kathak and belly dancer, a yoga practitioner, and an entrepreneur. Her Instagram profile is nithurofficial.
Durga Gawde is an artist, a sculptor, an activist, and an educator. They are also India’s first performing drag king, as Shakti, and have performed at Kitty Su. They were featured in Vogue India September 2019 issue, and had us all screaming! Put everything on hold and check their iconic snaps on their Instagram profile durgagawdestudio.
One of the names at the forefront of online trans activism is Neysara Rai, co-founder of TransgenderIndia.com. The site provides excellent resources for community members to help them make informed decisions in their lives. Neysara also launched ‘TALK’, an online forum where issues of changing name, socializing, medical assistance, etc. are discussed. Her contributions received international recognition when she became the first transwoman from India to be part of the distinguished Hall of Nations in the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. The exhibition Vital Voices: 100 Women Using their Power to Empower features her magnificent illustration (here).
Explore TransgenderIndia.com by clicking here.
Mumbra-based Khushi Shaikh is a popular influencer on Tiktok, with 1.6 million followers and counting. She exudes oomph and chutzpah in her gorgeous dresses. Khushi’s Tiktok videos (click here) are funny and lighthearted and they bring a smile on your face! Shine on, you diva!
Vqueeram Aditya Sahai
Vqueeram Aditya Sahai writes, lives, and breathes poetry. Their Instagram account vqueer bears testament to their storehouse of eloquence, wit, candor, and oomph. Their incisive commentary on all and sundry, from social isolation to caste politics and queer theory are must-reads!
Sasha sure knows how to serve lewks! Our happily genderfucked friend is also a committed advocate for mental health, LGBTQ+ community, feminism, and self-love, and documents their transition on their Instagram profile @daddydranks.
And finally, there’s Gaysi’s very own Jo! The artist and activist started the Instagram account _Almaarii_ in September 2018 with the mission to archive South Asian queer closet narratives. This initiative invited contributions from queer community members by asking them to describe a physical manifestation of their closet. Illustrators would then dedicate stunning closets based on the descriptions. Contributions have imagined the closet as a modestly sized garden, a makeshift library, a human chest, and a prism that holds no shelves, among other things. What started out as a little experiment continues to grow strong today.
Now that you’re inspired by all the queerness around, why don’t you just check out _Almaari_ and get yourself a closet!