My New Family, Policy Boot Camp – Gopi Shankar Madurai

“Inclusion is not tolerance, It is unquestioned acceptance”,this line is the very essence of what I experienced at the 21 day policy boot camp organized by Vision India foundation this July.

Interested in supporting fair and transparent leadership, attending the boot camp was to primarily understand a holistic picture of the  work in policy and development space on cross-sectoral topics. I saw this platform as an opportunity to bring awareness about indigenous sexual identities their history and current status to the diverse set of people at the boot camp. I was in search of support from different groups to help me resonate this information to masses.

Delegates at PBC 18

I am overwhelmed to state that not only I found people interested in knowing about the topic, they actively broke myths of exclusion that are usually held towards a special gender  person.

Being an Indian gender equal rights activist,the first openly intersex and genderqueer, candidates to contest in Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election, 2016, I have fought all odds to establish an identity in the society not only in India, but in many foreign countries. Never had I received such unquestioned support as I did here from the Vision India foundation team and the camp delegates.

Right from applying to the boot camp to the completion and post camp engagement, the sensitivity and understanding shown by the team lead by Shobhit Mathur ji will always memorable and cherished.

To ensure that their delegation gets high quality individuals, they tried providing support of all manner financial, emotional, logistical.

Showcasing fluidity the team readily introduced the option of ‘Others‘ for the larger gender spectrum in the application form as it came to their notice. Understanding constraints that were present, not only was I provided with the highest scholarship for the course, utmost sensitivity towards my health was shown, the organizing team provided me with a separate washroom and took special care of my medication. Innumerable acts like these, make this team more than a platform that supports individual growth, they proactively try to help tackle obstacles in our journey to realize and refine our potential as leaders.

I was promptly given the space to conduct three sessions on gender sensitization, understanding background of indigenous queer sexual identities in India, the insufficient nature of existing laws and on how together we can build an equal platform of participation for these indigenous sexual identity groups in our society. Attended by delegates, VIF organizing team and their core team leaders, the synergy created in all these three sessions strengthened the efforts that I had incessantly trying to make through Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA+ student volunteer collective.

The life of an organization is its people, the people who put ideas into action and turn a thought into reality, thereby creating something beautiful and new.  From the facilitators, speakers to the delegates and volunteers of the boot camp, from world class experienced academicians, practitioners to young dynamic personalities, the love they extended towards me almost feels dream like.

I joined with professional interests to explore myriad of policies, establish network with people who can show active support got the intersex and trans umbrella communities, but the outcome was something so much more profound. I found a family and a support system in the co-fellows and team here.

Vision India Foundation believes that the nation is built through the individuals residing there and they invest on them by providing guidance and resources, while keeping an open minded reception of varied ideas and beliefs.  

This platform is an exemplary model for understanding how sustainable changes and structures created when diverse individuals come together and utilize a space of experimenting and co-creation while learning from the top of all policy sector stakeholders.

Those nights of PBC 18 taught me a lot, me with my fellow PBC delegates sat back on the lawn and discussed “everything” till the dawn, to my surprise on the final day i was awarded the prestigious Chanakya Award of Policy Boot Camp.

Helping individuals believe in their capacity to constructively innovate and sustaining our belief in this line leads us to witness wonders, my heartiest gratitude and look forward to support their work on rebuilding our nation with informed citizen and transparent holistic growth centric governance.

Yes, I got a new family, a wonderful support system from PBC 18. I cherish those moments i spent with each and every delegates, this 21 days are unforgettable for my whole life.


I thank Intersex Human Rights Activist Hiker Chiu of OII Chinese, Taiwan for supporting my trip.

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