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Can writers teach us about pleasure and safety? A Hijra life story

I’m at The Jaipur Literature Festival in India – I want to explore if the writing community has skills that are lacking in Public Health to promote Good. Safe. Sex. After all creating new narratives is what we want more of in sex education.  Could writers better than sex educators re-claim the sexy in safer sex ?

An ideal person to first talk to is A Revathi who I spoke to today. She has just published her life story “The Truth  about me”.

A Revathi spoke in a session about her life journey as a Hijra and being born a boy but feeling and behaving as a girl, and the transformation to now being a woman. I asked her about her unique perspective living  as a man, then as a woman and also her work as a sex worker and then sex educator at Sangama Trust .I felt that she might have some wisdom on how the rest of us could negotiate safer sex.

Revathi’s feeling was that sex education needs to be about the whole person, that children in schools needed to learn about difference and be aware of other ways of living. She wished that she had known more about choosing alternative ways to live at school and that there were others like her. She talked about the violence and abuse that she had suffered and how that came from her lack of knowledge. Safer sex both mentally and physically, and protecting yourself  is more easily achieved when we have self esteem and confidence.

Revathi is inspiring in her book for her ability to deal with a hostile world and transcend our expectations of gender. Her determination to fulfill her desire and personal growth against all challenges is stunning. But the first lesson for me this weekend is that this writer through her negotiation of huge challenges in life highlighted how having legal status as a person and  confidence in your chosen identity are the foundations for protecting your self – against rape, physical violence but also with condoms.