- Title: Feminized in the Name of God
- Author: Yu Sakurazawa
- Category: MTF, transgender
Feminized in the Name of God is a transgender story deeply rooted in the Indian “devadasi” system.
The Devadasi System is a tradition prevalent in South and Western India in which an adolescent girl is dedicated to a temple deity. She is “married” to God in an elaborate ceremony called the Pottukattu. “Devadasis” literally mean “female servants of God” and were originally expected to serve the temple deity, keep the temple courtyard clean and dance for wealthy patrons. The devadasis could either choose to remain single or have a partner(s).
With passing time, the devadasi system just became an excuse to push young girls into prostitution so that they could financially support their families. The system became an excuse for upper caste men to sexually exploit young girls belonging to lower castes. By supporting the devadasi system, the Brahmins (the uppermost caste in India, who were typically custodians of the temple) gave religious sanction to prostitution.
Although Devadasi Abolition Bill was enacted in 1947, the system continues even today. As many as 3,000 young girls are secretly dedicated to temples every year and fall prey to exploitation and sexually transmitted diseases.
The protagonist is Laksh who was born as a baby boy from Anita, a devadasi. Anita’s mother has the total control of the devadasi family. The grandmother regrets that Laksh was born as a boy and tries to raise him as a dancer-girl.
Chapter 1 – My Fateful Birth
I was born on 9th January 2000 in a whorehouse. “Damn” said my grandma evidently “a boy is no good to me”. I could imagine the disappointment on her painted face and the dejected drooping of her heavy silk saree-clad body. Grandma herself had been a prostitute in her youth and had also made a lot of money by selling her daughter’s (i.e. my mother’s) body. Grandma was an avaricious woman who forced my mother to dance for and provide sex to many clients. When my mother was pregnant with me, grandma had fervently prayed that she would deliver a baby girl so that another young body in the house could be sold.
Not that women like my grandma openly called themselves prostitutes. They called themselves devadasis or the female servants of deva (God). The moment a girl of the devadasi clan attained puberty, she was “dedicated” to worship and service the deity of a temple. She was believed to be married to God and couldn’t marry a mortal. However, devadasis typically slept with partners of their choice. In recent times, the devadasi system had been reduced to just selling one’s body under the sanction of religion.
My grandma had apparently stood regarding me for a long time. My lily-white, Caucasian complexion had her salivating. Fair skin was highly priced in the meat market; grandma wanted to take complete advantage of mine. “Anita” she said to my mom “Your son is as fair as milk. He has taken after his father and isn’t dusky like yourself. You know what I’m thinking, don’t you?”
“I don’t have any idea” said my mom clutching me protectively.
“You’re a fool, Anita” said my grandma “you have no business sense whatsoever. Don’t you recognize an opportunity when you see one?”
“All I see is a child, mother” my mother had said obstinately.
“Sure, but he could also bring us loads of lucre” said my grandma “I would like to bring my grandson up as a girl and call her Lily. I’d love to dedicate Lily to God when she reaches puberty. Since the child has lovely fair skin, men would be willing to pay a fortune to sleep with her just once”.
“You’re crazy, mother” said my mom evidently crying “I certainly will not allow you to do any such thing. My son will grow up abiding by the gender he is born into. I shall call him Laksh, which means aim/destination/target. I want him to go to school, study hard and grow up to become an academician”. “Ha! Send him to school!” my grandma scoffed “no child in our community has ever gone to school! The admission form in school is bound to ask for the boy’s father’s name and his surname. What will you tell them? We devadasis don’t know who our fathers are. We don’t have surnames. All we are born to do is serve God and men!”
“I’ll manage to admit Laksh to a school” my mom had muttered defiantly “there is no need for you to worry about that”.
“Very well, Anita” said my grandma “have it your own way. But do what you might, you will never be able to avert the fate destiny has for this child!”
Little had my mother known about my grandma’s evil scheme. Grandma had secretly vowed to feminize me.
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