Transwoman Padmashali Akkai and her husband Vasudevan have broken norms by adopting a child. They stand as India’s first trans couple to ever legally adopt a child. Akkai is a transgender rights activist from Bangalore, and the couple had to endure years of struggle to finally realise their forever dream of raising kids.
This is a tale that will give us hope and the courage to face any sort of a bad hand that life deals with us.
Akkai and Vasu:
Nearly ten years ago, Akkai Padmashali met the LGBTQIA+ activist – Vasu. They immediately became fast friends and this bond eventually lead to love.
“When Vasu first came to Bengaluru, we were working for the same organisation. He is from a small village called Magadi in Bengaluru Rural district and we kept in touch since our first meeting. Later, we started seeing each other,” Akkai said to the News Minute.
Vasu and Akkai are now married. They had full support from both their families and the wedding was followed by a reception.
Akkai runs Ondede, (which stands for ‘convergence’ in Kannada); which is an organization whose main aim is to spread awareness about sexuality, sexual diversity and the right to choose who we want to be i.e. sexual orientation.
Also, when it was the matter of her own wedding, Akkai did not take this decision lightly. Vasu proposed marriage to Akkai many times is their time before marriage, but she always refused.
“I was against the institution of marriage as I had apprehensions about domestic violence. Vasu had proposed marriage many times; back then my work as an activist was more important to me,” told Akkai. “My friends and advisors then told me that marriage need not mean violence; if two people support each other and are in love, it would work out. It took me eight years to understand that.”
Vasu, who previously worked as an LGBTQIA+ activist, is now running a laundry service in Magadi. The couple tied the knot back in 2017, and their marriage was registered in 2018; exactly one year later.
Akkai always dreamt of adopting a child:
“I wanted to adopt a baby even before I got married,” said this Bengaluru-based trans woman and activist. They named their then three-month-old, adopted son as Avin. “A stands for Akkai and V stands of Vasu,” said Akkai who was glowing in sheer joy.
Ever since they tied the knot, the coupled tried endlessly to adopt a baby. Like every other right that the LGBTQIA+ community are denied in our country and the world, Akkai had to struggle real hard for adoption too. In the past, she always struggled to get a house on rent or a bank loan. So naturally even for adoption, “I was turned down by every adoption centre I approached,” she said.
“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 asked, as she spoke of her experience at the three orphanages she contacted for adoption. “At one institution, they completely shut the gate on seeing us and did not even listen to us,” she added.
“Sometimes, I had to think beyond social construct and barriers,” Akkai told the News Minute; she shared about managing the tide over stigma and apprehensions of a transwoman adopting a kid.
After fighting for two and a half years, the couple saw their dreams finally become a reality. They adopted her cousin’s child in October 2019. “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”, added Akkai.
The child is legally their son:
The couple’s lawyer reported that Avin was legally adopted as per the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956). Also the Juvenile Justice Act, which allows for adoption. “These laws talk about Hindu man and woman, and Akkai identifies as a woman,” the lawyer said.
Even while bursting in absolute joy of finally becoming a mother, Akkai’s fear for the future of her child still gripped her.
“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 voiced these 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 added.