India's First 'Open' Transgender Wedding Took Place In A Mumbai Temple

Madhuri Sarode & Jay Sharma
Madhuri Sarode & Jay SharmaGaylaxy Magazine

The transgender community has evolved from a small community that’s been clandestine about its customs and lifestyle to approximately 4.9 lakh members, hardly a ‘minority’ anymore. And Indian society has for far too long been intolerant of the existing diversity of sexual identities. However, after years of struggle and debates, the Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a legal third gender recently. This judgement, celebrated across the country, granted them recognition, gave them rights to vote, apply for passports, obtain a driver’s license and admission to educational institutions among others. While on one hand this was a major achievement for the transgender community, the continued, and may we say, pointless existence of Section 377 still denies marriage equality to the LGBTQ community, and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, doesn’t specify the right to marriage either, leaving the legality of a transgender individuals’ right in this case an ambiguity.

Here at Homegrown we like to believe that every new year we, society as a whole, moves forward, taking steps towards progress, inclusion and greater equality among all citizens of our nation. While the battle for equality is ongoing, the LGBTQ community has continued to assert their identity, not allowing regressive thoughts and laws to squash their identity nor their right to a joyous and fulfilled life. So you can imagine how happy we were to wake up this morning at the dawn of a new year and hear about the wedding of Madhuri Sarode, a Mumbai-based transgender lady and activist, to her partner of two years, Jay Sharma, in a beautiful, traditional Hindu ceremony at a temple, in Santa Cruz.

Madhuri & Jay. Image source: Aher Aheena via Facebook

From what we’ve read so far, we gather that the couple first interacted on Facebook before they decided to meet in person and fell in love. Family and friends gathered from around the city, even as far as from Dubai, to shower the couple with love and support on their wedding day. The ceremony was carried out and officiated by a priest, and while this may not be the first transgender wedding in the country, it is one that was held in the open, for all to see, support or criticise.

“We have been together for five years. Our marriage should be accepted legally, but it is a difficult process. But if we can get a separate identity, we should also be allowed to get married,” said Madhuri speaking to Times of India. Getting a registered, legal marriage certificate will be the couples next task, the procurement of which can determine many things for their future together, including the adoption of children, for example, and it’s not going to be a simple process, but one that they’re both ready to take on. “I will move the Supreme Court if I have to, to get our marriage registered legally,” said Madhuri to Gaylaxy Magazine.

“I want the marriage certificate to be given to me as a transgender. I’m willing to fight for it, and even go to court if I have to,” she commented. “We live in India and it’s really difficult to pull Section 377 out of the books. Personally I haven’t faced any issues but I want to fight for myself and other Madhuris in India.”

We weren’t able to reach the newly weds, as we’re sure they’re busy planning for their honeymoon, but we’re glad to see individuals that belong to a community that has been immensely ostracised in our society stepping out and fighting for their rights, and from what we can tell from their wedding photographs, they’re truly happy and ready for a long life together, regardless of the challenges they have to face — they’re ready for the battle.

Image source: Gaylaxy Magazine
Image source: Gaylaxy Magazine
Image source: Gaylaxy Magazine
Image source: Gaylaxy Magazine

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Words: Sara Hussain

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