Home Inspirational This Transwoman’s Libraries Are Altering How Villages See Queer Individuals

This Transwoman’s Libraries Are Altering How Villages See Queer Individuals

This Transwoman’s Libraries Are Altering How Villages See Queer Individuals


When many people reminisce about our childhoods, particularly our teenage years, we frequently recall fond recollections full of family and friends. Nonetheless, as life progresses, the problem of recreating these moments of pleasure turns into more and more daunting.

For Rituparna Neog, a younger trans chief and educator, recollections of her teenage years differ considerably from the everyday nostalgic recollections. “As a younger youngster, I lived in a protected family. Nonetheless, as life progressed, I turned a sufferer of bullying and queerphobia,” she remembers in a dialog with The Higher India.

Now a number one queer rights activist in Assam, she is using the facility of books to remove queerphobia in her village.

“I don’t blame my classmates for bullying me. They didn’t know any higher. I need to be certain that in my village and the whole state, no different youngster will get bullied for being queer. What higher manner to do this than with the facility of books!” she says.

Making a Queer-Constructive Assam

Born and raised in Jorhat, Assam, Rituparna by no means needed to ‘come out’ in her house. “My house was at all times very supportive of my identification, and I by no means needed to clarify it to anybody. I used to be protected for a very long time,” she shares.

It was when she reached highschool nonetheless, that she began to face bullies. “I didn’t know what to do when the bullying began. I began to push myself right into a shell,” she says. 

As Rituparna remembers, throughout that difficult time, her solace turned libraries and her greatest buddies have been books.

Rituparna started Akam Foundation to open free libraries and bring queer awareness in small towns and rural areas in Assam.
Rituparna began Akam Basis to open free libraries and produce queer consciousness in small cities and rural areas in Assam. Image caption: Rituparna Neog

“I’d simply disguise in my faculty’s libraries and make buddies with books. I cherished studying a lot, and so they transported me to a world the place there have been no bullies,” she provides.

Since then, Rituparna had carried the thought that she would do one thing for youngsters like her. What higher manner than to make use of books and training to assist them, she exclaims.

“I firmly consider that training is the important thing to decreasing the bullying I confronted. They have been younger kids who didn’t know what queer means, and so they made enjoyable of it. Whereas cities in India have change into far more delicate to the subject, individuals in rural areas and distant villages don’t even know concerning the existence of queer individuals and their rights,” she provides.

“How can we anticipate kids to respect one thing they know nothing about?” she questions.

After finishing her diploma in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati in 2017, she determined to do one thing in her village. 

“Whereas I labored in Guwahati for a while, I consider that change begins at house and do one thing in my village,” she says, including that bringing queer training to kids was one of many first issues she needed to implement upon her return.

Kitape Katha Koi 

In a bid to make books obtainable to each youngster in her village, Rituparna began a mission known as Kitape Katha Koi which interprets to ‘books communicate’ beneath her NGO known as Akam Basis. 

“I proposed this concept to my individuals within the village — a free library with a whole lot of books to be taught from. They have been anticipating it. I might see a starvation in them for training. I made a decision to open a library within the village freed from value with my very own private assortment of books,” she says. 

The free neighborhood library helps almost 100 kids from close by villages and tea estates entry and skim Assamese, Hindi, and English books. “The preliminary response of the youngsters was overwhelmingly optimistic. A mean of 30 kids go to the library every single day. The preliminary response made me need to open extra such libraries,” she says. 

The free library in Jorhat has over 2000 books in Hindi, English and Assamese.
The free library in Jorhat has over 2000 books in Hindi, English and Assamese. Image credit score: Rituparna Neog

The library has books on varied topics and themes akin to gender, sexuality, psychological well being, local weather justice, skill, feminism, and minority rights.

The mission can also be part of The Free Libraries Community (FLN) India and South Asia — a platform designed to hyperlink free libraries and construct free library actions.

“These books across the subjects of gender, sexuality and feminism particularly within the native language give the individuals entry to information that’s free. This information helps them develop,” she provides. 

With steady efforts, she was capable of open one other library known as the Chandraprabha Saikiani Feminist Library and Useful resource Centre in Dibrugarh, Assam. “My imaginative and prescient is to achieve as many kids and folks as attainable in rural areas of Assam,” she says. 

In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Rituparna began an internet storytelling mission the place she would recite tales. Moreover, she additionally retains internet hosting varied pop-up libraries in areas akin to housing societies, schools, college campuses, public parks and many others. 

The library in Jorhat which began with 600 books has now grown to have a group of two,000+ books. 

Reaching the remotest areas 

Rituparna believes that books can assist her obtain her purpose. She additionally needed to mobilise the youth of her village and Asaam to deliver queer positivity. 

For this, she alongside along with her neighborhood members began Drishti Queer Collective in 2021. “Up to now a variety of work has been carried out in lots of areas of the state particularly in Guwahati to make individuals conscious of queer rights however I nonetheless really feel that it’s missing in small cities and rural areas,” she says. 

Pride parade in Jorhat, Assam.
Satisfaction parade in Jorhat, Assam. Image credit score: Rituparna Neog

With a core group of 15 individuals, Rituparna focuses on bringing consciousness to individuals in rural Assam within the native language. 

“I realised how language is a barrier for a lot of rural individuals and we determined to achieve them of their language. We organised meetups in semi-urban areas to teach them of LGBTQI+ communities and their rights,” she says. 

“We’ve got additionally been making an attempt to mobilise communities to come back collectively. Alongside the identical traces, we did our very first Jorhat pleasure stroll in April 2022. This was the primary pleasure stroll outdoors of Guwahati. In June 2022, Dibrugarh had its very first pleasure stroll wherein a whole lot of individuals participated,” she says. 

The collective additionally works with schools to assist them run gender-sensitising programmes which were mandated by the UGC. 

“From the collective, we’re operating two extra campaigns — ‘No Extra Holding My Pee’ to deliver gender-neutral washrooms in private and non-private schools. We’ve got a petition operating on Change.org for a similar as we would like some form of coverage change mandating faculties to have gender-neutral washrooms,” she says. 

“The second marketing campaign is about making kids in excessive faculties extra delicate in the direction of subjects of queerness and gender. We work with academics and faculties for that,” she provides. 

With her campaign #nomoreholdingmypee, she wants to bring gender-neutral washrooms to public and private colleges.
Together with her marketing campaign #nomoreholdingmypee, she desires to deliver gender-neutral washrooms to private and non-private schools. Image credit score: Rituparna Neog

With the collectives’ effort, Rituparna has reached out to greater than 10,000 individuals from rural areas and small cities within the Assamese language. 

Rituparna just lately bought nominated as a member consultant to the Nationwide Council for Transgender Individuals of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Authorities of Assam. 

You possibly can comply with Rituparna’s libraries and initiatives right here

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)



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