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‘Mumbai accepts you when you begin to accept yourself’

Reddy, 30, a transgender activist and capacity building officer with Humsafar Trust, chats about growing up in Dharavi, raised by a single mother; reservations for transgenders; working at a call centre; dancing at a dance bar; and how she wishes she had a better skin regimen

mumbai Updated: Aug 24, 2018 09:10 IST
Sukanya Datta
Sukanya Datta
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai Meri hai,Transgender
Shreya Reddy attended an education fair in Vile Parle on Sunday, to apply to foreign universities. She wants to do research and subsequently work in fields related to family sensitisation from a reputed foreign university.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)

“This city accepts you when you begin to accept yourself,” says Shreya Reddy, 30, a transgender activist and capacity building officer with Humsafar Trust.

Reddy will tell you laughingly that she’s a talker, and she is. In the same breath, she chats about growing up in Dharavi, raised by a single mother; reservations for transgenders; working at a call centre; dancing at a dance bar; and how she wishes she had a better skin regimen.

“I used to try to hide myself from other people before,” she says. “I think it was because I could never say out loud the one thing I really wanted to say… that I’m a girl! Mumbai choked me. It continues to put me through my worst days. But I have learnt to struggle here and win.”

Reddy has a Masters degree from Andhra University and is a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. “I want to do research and work in the field of family sensitisation,” she says. At an education fair in Vile Parle, she waits in line with other study-abroad hopefuls and gathers material on her options.

“Mumbai remains a city that reduces people like me to hijras with ‘dhandas’, doesn’t allow us a space in the ladies’ coach or a flat to stay in,” she says. “I want to study further to be able to change that. I want it to feel like the city truly belongs to us too.”

(This story is part of a series Moving Images that celebrates the city of Mumbai through its people.)

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 17:12 IST