This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Bala Sai Kiran. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

In Conversation With Apsara Reddy On Journalism, The Challenges Of Identity And More

More from Bala Sai Kiran

By Bala Sai:

“I have always felt I was a girl. There was never a doubt in my mind. It wasn’t so much of a challenge [to come to terms with it]. And when there were uncomfortable and rather intrusive questions posed and when people passed value judgments, I remained silent. The only people I was answerable to were my folks and myself. But I did realize in the process that if you stop living your reality, the world will not stand by you either. But when you’re honest and courageous, the society does come around.”

Society is Euclidean. It is made of perfect circles and squares and straight lines. It is afraid of anything that it doesn’t understand, that its little set of formulae can’t predict. These are shackles that bind us, blind us and constrain us. But once in a while, someone comes around, brave enough to shrug off whatever the society hurls at them, to show the world what it means to believe in oneself.

Photo Credit: Nithin Bharath
Photo Credit: Nithin Bharath

Meet Apsara Reddy, Editor, Broadcast Journalist, human rights activist, political lobbyist, brand ambassador and a proud transsexual woman based in Chennai. She has been one of the most prominent voices in the LGBT community, her successes lending hope and courage to people like herself, to rise up against discrimination and make their voices heard.

If you are a Chennaite, chances are that you already know who she is. She has become a household name in the city after the viral success of her chat-show, ‘Natpudan Apsara’, known for bringing Kollywood celebs up close and personal to their fans.

She has worked as the Chief Editor with Deccan Chronicle, and has lately launched her own tabloid, The Red Kite. Through her illustrious career as a journalist, she has interviewed the likes of Nicholas Cage, Michael Schumacher, AR Rahman, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Here, she answers questions about her life, career and her inspiring journey.

Why journalism? When did you realize your passion towards journalism?

I love telling stories. Stories that educate, inspire, provoke and entertain. I believe there is a story in every interaction and situation. So, after my 12th when I topped the Commerce stream, my parents forced me into a business degree. I enjoyed it but wanted to also combine it with something I like. Luckily, in Australia where I did my BA, I could do a double degree. I graduated with a BA in Business Marketing and Investigative Journalism from Monash University. Later on, I did my MA in Broadcasting and Developmental Economics in London.

How do you think your profession has influenced the way you think, and your beliefs?

Journalism made me realize myself too. Exploring stories from every angle forces you to think of possibilities, gain courage and also reason with your own self. In that sense, I discovered a lot of facets about myself. Also, the people you come into contact with help you explore possibilities and understand that there is a space for every kind of human being. My beliefs have always been non-rigid. I have certain principles but no hard and fast opinions on sex, gender, religion or politics. I am open to suggestions and changing my opinion too. But yes, I will put up a good argument to stand my ground too.

Have you ever faced, over the course of your career, difficulty or discrimination because of your gender identity?

I refuse to let small minds discriminate me or deny my opportunities. Yes, there have been baseless, cruel and abusive comments and statements passed. I just don’t feel the need to dignify them with a response. I have only focused on being bloody damn good at my job and delivering for the organization I am with. Success has helped me a great deal, not just in silencing naysayers but also in standing up for many like me. After a point, I think your work and success become your reputation and not your sexual identity.

Was there any pressure on you (parental, societal or peer) when you decided to go ahead with sex-reassignment surgery and how did you deal with it?

I was 16 when I had the conversation with my parents. It was emotional and there was a lot of fear in their minds. But not once did they tell me to not follow my heart. We evaluated all the medical procedures and got the best advice. My mother is my hero and I owe my independence to her.

But people spread such malicious rumours about me while I was away in Bangkok. It hurt a lot because I was embarking on the most important phase of my life and people were gossiping in parties about what I was there for. I heard stuff from liposuction to treatment for depression. I refuse to respond to such talk because these folk don’t occupy any space in my life or head. I am glad in a way, that I am so important to form their dinner table discussions.

After the process, how much of a change could you sense in the way people perceived you as a person?

Those who mattered always treated me as a woman and even people who came into contact with me were warm and understanding. So, I felt no drastic change. People still respect me and give me the dignity I deserve as a woman.

Do you think men will be courageous enough to marry a trans-woman?

I am a believer. So, yes I believe men want partners who are caring, will keep them happy and are stimulating both physically and mentally. Also, the connect between two individuals cannot just be about gender, right? Any forward thinking man with sensitivity will be capable of standing up for his love.

Some men love trans-women but marry safe. Yet in a few years, they rekindle their past romance. Families too these days are okay with choices their kids make as long as they are financially, emotionally and socially secure. And lastly, I must say marriages have to be about the synergy of families and minds and not just the wedding, which is one big show for society.

What is the one advice you would give to somebody who is still struggling to come out?

Just be honest. No one should deny you inner peace and dignity. If people are going to change because of your honesty, you don’t need them in your life. Parents who love you will support you for your honesty and being brave rather than settling in sham marriages or putting up a façade. If they don’t, you need to make them see sense in your transition.

Tell us a bit about The Red Kite. And what does it bring to the typical reading experience, as far as news is concerned?

We are a fresh tabloid, which focuses on fearless journalism. Good language, great design and access to the powerful distinguish us. Our headlines are shocking and often thought provoking. I aim to make The Red Kite a weekend addiction for the city.

What was your inspiration behind it?

I wanted to do a publication that is not just purple prose and too serious. Also, one that is not just filled with yellow journalism and splashing socialites all over the pages. Red Kite maintains a good balance.

So far, how has the journey been? How has it been received?

The response is overwhelming. We have great advertisers on board. Our virtual hits and social media analytics are very good. I am overall very happy with the city’s response to it. A big thank you to our advertisers and stocking partners who have encouraged us and become a part of the Red Kite family.

We are witnessing a change, slowly but surely, in people’s perceptions. Prejudice and discrimination are quietly crumbling, making way for tolerance and understanding – building blocks for the dream of a truly inclusive society; a society where there is a place for everyone, for every idea, for every belief, for every orientation; a society that believes in its people, in freedom, and in life itself. Apsara Reddy is an inspiration to all, and we need more people like her to succeed, to show the world what can be achieved through strength and belief, to rewrite the laws we all live by.

You must be to comment.
  1. Mansi

    Such a well-written article! I did not know about her. Shes so educated and brilliant. Inspiring. India needs to change 🙂

    1. Apsara

      Thanks guys. God Bless

  2. Deva

    Good to see such interviews coming up on this website. And Ms. Reddy is an inspiring personality, with a refreshingly honest and optimistic world view.

  3. Gaurav

    the issues faced by women cannot be solved by looking at them through gender glasses, as long as women and for that matter any group keeps looking at every issue through the lens of their personal grievances the issues will persist.

  4. Anwesha

    What a great article! Kudos to every family thato lends support to their children to follow their dreams and aspirations, as different as they be. And thank you for introducing us to such a glorious strong woman who lets her work dictate her course of life. Cheers!

More from Bala Sai Kiran

Similar Posts

By Chiranshu Sihag

By ananya rajawat

By Poornima Mandpe

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below