Transgender rights activist and trans woman Akkai Padmashali and her husband Vasu legally adopted a child on August 7 – after years of struggle.

The struggles of a trans woman to legally adopt a child Akkais story
news Adoption Tuesday, October 01, 2019 - 12:19

“I wanted to adopt a baby even before I got married,” says Bengaluru-based trans woman and activist Akkai Padmashali. A few weeks back, Akkai and her husband Vasu, who is also an LGBTQI+ activist, legally adopted a child. They named their three-month-old, Avin. “A stands for Akkai and V stands of Vasu,” says Akkai, the joy evident in her voice.

Akkai is an award-winning transgender rights activist. She got married to her long-time partner, Vasu, on January 20, 2017. Ever since, they’ve been trying to adopt a baby – and like every other aspect of life that cisgender people take for granted, for Akkai, this was a major struggle. In the past, she’s struggled to find a house on rent or get a bank loan. So when it came to adoption, “I was turned down by every adoption centre I approached,” she says. 

“I was asked, ‘you are child kidnappers, you are on the street and you are sex workers. How will you take care of a child or ensure its welfare?’ It disappointed me. How do we survive as human beings with such a transphobic attitude in our society?” she asks, as she talks about her experience at three ‘anathashramas’ (orphanages) she had approached. “At one institution, they completely shut the gate on seeing us and did not even listen to us,” she adds.

Akkai’s life – like that of most transgender people across the country – has been fraught with societal assumptions and discriminations: neighbours and house owners have humiliated Akkai and her friends, hiked the rent after seeing her, and some have even knocked on her door in the night for sex. Even after her marriage to Vasu, house owners would ask them to vacate their home, forcing her to start an online fundraiser last year – as a last resort – to buy her own house.

“Sometimes, I had to think beyond social construct and barriers,” Akkai tells TNM, sharing how she managed tide over the stigma and apprehensions of a transgender woman adopting a child. 

“After almost two years-and-a half, we finally legally adopt my cousin’s child,” she says, adding, “My greatest strength throughout the entire process was our families. They accepted and supported our decision, and said they will raise him as their own family member.”

Read: Why Akkai Padmashali, face of trans welfare in K’taka, is forced to crowdfund a house

According to the couple’s lawyer, Avin was adopted as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956), which provides for adoption. “These laws talk about Hindu man and woman, and Akkai identifies as a woman,” the lawyer says.

Even amidst her the joy of being a mother, Akkai is gripped by bouts of fear for her child’s future.

“Like every parent, I want to give my child a quality education, that’s it. Akkai Padmashali’s identity and past are secondary. When my child starts going to school, he is going to be taunted, labelling his mother as a sex worker or a beggar. How will he take this? What kind of environment are we creating for him?” she voices her concerns for Avin’s future.

“I request our society – whatever discrimination you have towards us, please end it there. Accept the way we are and set an example for our future generation,” she says.

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