On 2nd September 2019, we entered the 10th year of our journey as India’s first Genderqueer and Intersex led human rights movement. We began our journey with a humble aim to create a space for Genderqueer, Intersex and LGBTQA+ Indians in the public discourse. Through its activities, Srishti Madurai has continuously worked to generate discussions, solution-oriented research, scholarship and publications on SOGIESC issues in Tamil Nadu/India.
At every step in the journey, we have made an attempt to engage constructively with all stakeholders to work towards holistic protection of human rights of LGBTQIA+ and Genderqueer people. We’ve tried to fill crucial gaps in law and policy by bringing into focus the rights of Intersex persons as per India’s constitutional scheme.
As a self-funded volunteer-based movement/organisation, none of our accomplishments would have been possible without the overwhelming love and support we got from people of all walks of life. We are deeply grateful to everyone- all individuals and organisations who have supported us in our work so far.
The journey so far…
On 2011 September 2nd, a handful of student volunteer team inspired by each other in Madurai started a forum for non-binary, genderqueer & Intersex people in Madurai we named our team as Srishti Madurai inspired by Anjali Gopalan.
Our movement started with a 24X7 phone helpline for genderqueer people in three South Indian languages. In the same year, Srishti Madurai organized the Alan Turing Rainbow Festival 2012 which was essentially a Genderqueer Education festival to mark the birth centenary celebrations of Alan Turing. We reached out to more than 600 school children in Madurai. In the same year, we organised Asia’s first genderqueer pride festival which included participation of Anjali Gopalan, A. Revathi ma and several key persons.
In this year, we took up the case of Champion Athlete Santhi Soundarajan who is now one of the committee members of Srishti Madurai. Regional Tamil terms for Genderqueer identities were coined by Team Srishti Madurai at the American College, Introduced Gay literature, and Transgender literature as part of curriculum at the American College in Madurai.
Srishti Madurai started offering courses on Indian Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Trekking Team of Srishti Madurai started monthly Trekking events for Madurai queer community and allies to discover the History of Madurai in SOGIESC lens.
First Tamil book on LGBTQIA+ genderqueer rights was published, this book was launched by Tamil Nadu BJP leader Srimathi Vanathi Srinivasan in the presence of several volunteers from RSS. Later, this book became part of the curriculum for Intersex Human Rights Studies for Tamil PG Research Department at the American College in Madurai. Now, this book is also available in all public libraries in Singapore. It has created strong influence in Tamil diaspora in the South Asian region. Team Srishti Madurai theatre performance on Bio Art – Genesis was initiated by John Marshal. Team Srishti Madurai started the Kannagi Study Circle to spread the Tamil Philosophy in SOGIESC perspectives.
Srishti Madurai was invited to witness the passage of the Transgender person’s Rights Bill presented by Tiruchi Siva in the Rajya Sabha (Parliament of India). Srishti Madurai requested MPs from both upper and lower house of Parliament of India to present the issues pertained to intersex human rights in India.
Justice for Santhi campaign was initiated by Srishti Madurai to highlight the discrimination faced by Female Athletes, the campaign reached more than 1 Million people. Srishti Madurai was instrumental in getting a Government Order for (permanent job) Santhi Soundarajan as athletic coach in Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. Srishti Madurai started awareness campaign to educate law makers, policy makers, politicians, medical practitioners, academicians, and media people on Intersex Human Rights. Srishti Madurai launched an important petition to ban sex selective surgeries on infants born with Intersex traits to the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Srishti Madurai started engaging with various Religious bodies and faith communities to create awareness on SOGIESC issues. Srishti Madurai engaged with Buddhist, Jain, Islamic faith leaders/communities and also with the National Council for Churches in India. JM John Marshal and Gopi Shankar contributed to various interfaith dialogues and primary book project to educate the religious leaders from the church on SOGIESC. Especially Srishti Madurai contributed to the book “Definitions- Understanding Gender, Sex, and Sexuality. A Theological Reader on Human Sexuality and Gender Diversities: Envisioning Inclusivity”
Srishti Madurai was part of Madrid Summit 2017 and World Pride, Madrid, Spain. Srishti Madurai was one of the signatories and key speaker at Madrid Summit Declaration along with the officials from the UNESCO, the EU parliament and the UN. Also, politicians from 11 EU countries were present in this event. Srishti Madurai was invited to ILGA Asia Regional Conference at Cambodia- first time Intersex Human Rights in India was discussed at the Asian forum.
Gopi Shankar Madurai was elected as Intersex Representative and Executive Board Member of ILGA Asia region. Our former Trustee and advisory board member Nandini Murali penned the book – Life in In Trans Activism A. Revathi – by Zubaan Publication.
Srishti Madurai became one of the founding members of Intersex Asia (Asia’s first collective forum for Intersex activists, individuals and Intersex led organisations) in Bangkok. Students from more than 12 countries visited Srishti Madurai for learning SOGIESC issues in Indic perspective, Inspired number of scholars. Srishti Madurai organised the Matrixial Intersex Festival supported by the Intersex Human Rights Fund, Dr. Bracha Ettinger renowned scholar delivered the keynote address.
OII Chinese Taiwan and RFSL Sweden supported Srishti Madurai to attend ILGA World Conference in Wellington- for the first time Intersex Youth Panel was formed and Gopi Shankar Madurai was elected to the Youth Steering Committee of ILGA World. Volunteers from Srishti Madurai for the first time attended the ILGA Asia conference in Seoul & 2nd Asian Intersex Forum at Seoul, South Korea.
Srishti Madurai inspired the landmark judgment from the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) to ban sex selective surgeries on Intersex Infants/Children in Tamil Nadu which directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of Tamil Nadu to pass a Government Order within 8 weeks from the court order. Srishti Madurai jointly with Intersex Asia organised 1st ever policy briefing meeting to pass the Government Order, was co-sponsored by COC Netherlands. Srishti Madurai along with NNID Netherlands jointly submits a report in CPD treaty bodies meeting on 2 September 2019 sponsored by COC Netherlands.
The State Government of Tamil Nadu, India passed a Government Order to ban sex selective surgeries on Intersex infants with the inputs from Srishti Madurai. On 2nd September 2019, we presented our joint submission report on human rights of intersex children in India at the treaty bodies meeting at United Nations in Geneva.
No words can express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the overwhelming support and kindness everybody showed to Srishti Madurai.
One by one each day flew by, 9 years of memories that you shared with Srishti Madurai, volunteers who were with us to share/organise/celebrate big events and holidays, to simple daily pleasures. Some tearful times along Srishti Madurai’s way, some joy that can’t be measured.
9 years now gone, but still our gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and trying to create a space to celebrate who we are.
These 9 years of service made us to take a baby step to bring up a social space for Intersex, Genderqueer and LGBTQA+ task not just in Madurai but also in Asia. So far, we have organised/were part of more than 100 seminars, conferences on SOGIESC topics, created impact with more than 300,000 students, coined Tamil terms for SOGIESC identities under Genderqueer umbrella.
It’s a moment of great blessing for us to serve this cause.
Bless us, Be with us in this non-static journey.
Jai Ma (Hailing the Mother Creation)