No share of family property for me because I have a vagina . . .

I’m Hemabati. I’m 39 years old and live in Imphal East district. I’m a trans man. My partner Nanao and I have been living together for 13 years now in my house. But some of my family members still do not treat us like a couple.

Since 2005, a year after Nanao came, my brother set up a separate kitchen along with his wife and two children, even though we continue to live in the same house. My mother who used to eat with me and Nanao also started cooking her own food since late 2015, after I asked her to give me my share of the family property.

We might be trans men, but first we are human beings!

Nanao and I want to live properly, in a small place separately to call our own. My father died in my childhood. The registration of the homestead land was transferred from my father to my brother’s name a few years back as he needed a loan. But now, my brother is adamantly refusing to transfer back some land to me.

Whenever I insist on my inheritance, a major quarrel ensues. He verbally abuses me, and even says things like “You with vagina, why would I give to one with vagina? You can stay in this house till your death, you can even die here, but I won’t give you even 25-paise worth!”

The neighbourhood is supportive, but my mother is not understanding enough. I want this to be resolved while she is alive because the frequent quarrel among us siblings is only providing entertainment for the neighbourhood. I tell her, “Ima, while you are living, I want to build a house separately of my own. And when there is some facility available for trans people, I want to apply for loans, etc. So please transfer at least a small area to me.”

But every time I say this to her, she vanishes for a few days without telling us where she is going. Now I want to take legal recourse but I am also hesitant as this is a within-the-family affair.

As told to Thingnam Anjulika Samom, freelance journalist and gender rights activist.


3 thoughts on “No share of family property for me because I have a vagina . . .

  1. This story is heartrending. But what I’m confused is why hasn’t Hemabati’s mother received any share of the property after her husband’s demise? Shouldn’t she be the rightful inheritor? And when it comes to Hemabati, why can’t he receive a share of the property as every child should be able to – irrespective of their gender identity?


    1. Dear Pawan

      Good question. in Manipur, women rarely get immovable property inheritance from own parents, though some families do accept and practice the norm of having a small portion dedicated as “ningol saruk” (share of ningol/daughter).

      Most land — homestead or paddy fields — are usually in male’s name, passed from father to son. Only those few rich families with surplus lands, or many land holdings will have land in woman’s name, and give share to daughters and widows of male child. However those with land constraints usually struggle/conflict with each other for share.

      In Hemabati’s case, the situation is not just of a biological woman being denied inheritance, but his gender identity as trans man compounds the conflict. That is why her brother refers to his vagina — his meaning probably being that even if you go around and say you are a man, yet you have a vagina, not a penis … typical male reaction to a threat to his own manhood.

      It seems, as per Hemabati’s story, his mother could exercise her position and make the division of property but she doesn’t. Hemabati is asking for a share of his father’s property and asking her mother to put pressure on his brother to share some of the property in his name.

      Hope this information helps.



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