Kalki Subramaniam dons many hats — that of an actor, an author, a transgender activist and an entrepreneur..
From a 16-year old boy who was confused about his sexual orientation and identity, Kalki has come a long way. Breaking the stereotyping of transgenders and demonstrating to the world that being a transgender is nothing to be ashamed of has been one of her biggest challenges. She says, “Like anyone else we too can contribute positively towards our country and the society we live in.”
To reach where she is today, Kalki’s had to cross many hurdles. First was coming to terms with her own self. At 16, life was in a turmoil due to the tussle between the anatomical gender identity of one’s sex and the psychological identity of the other. “It was the most difficult period of my life. I was in school, as an effeminate confused boy student,” she says.
There was a realization that the adolescent young boy, would not be the same as the grown up adult, the world was expecting to see. It was a very terrifying moment to deal with. Overwhelmed with thoughts about family acceptance and their reaction to her true identity, often pushed her to think of even suicide, though she never tried it.
One day she picked up the courage and spoke to her parents about her gender identity crisis. “My parents broke down, they were frightened about my future. I was sad to see them crying so I made them a promise that I would make them proud if they let me be. They did. It took a lot of hard work but I kept my end of the promise.”
Kalki’s list of achievements is long. She walked down the path of entrepreneurship when a friend, a young artist approached her for help in promoting his craft, especially musical instruments. With this she invested in his products and began selling online. Brand Kalki Enterprises was born. “I started earning and it was exciting to see the profit in my hands. Today we are doing good, my friend is very independent, travels across the country for his business.”
She is soon starting a new venture called Kalki Organics offering pure, eco friendly, zero chemical organic soaps and personal health care products.
Kalki writes in both English and Tamil, and has written extensively for trans equality for the past 10 years. She loves poetry and recently her first collection of poems was released as a book in Tamil named ‘KuriAruthean'(Phallus, I cut).
Kalki has been actively advocating for legal recognition of the transgender community of India — from lobbying for their rights with the judiciary to campaigning for gender non conforming students in educational institutions,
With self-belief and self-respect as her greatest motivation, Kalki says, “I am different, yet I am as good as anyone else, striving to be the better and the best. I keep learning constantly in life.”
In 2009, she started a matrimonial website for the transgenders and in 2011 even acted in a lead role in a Tamil film, ‘Narthaki’, a beautiful biography of the transgender community. The movie brought her appreciation from both the critics and even worldwide audience.