I Am Sirat is a heartwarming documentary about a trans woman living in Delhi. It explores her day to day life, from her home to her job to her going out to a club with friends. In that exploration, both Sirat and collaborator Deepa Mehta (Water, Midnight’s Children) convey that there really isn’t an ordinary day for Sirat in her day to day life. There is, at least at home, always a struggle.
Patriarchal, heteronormative societies maintain their societal hegemony through the enforcement of strict gender norms. We are taught that any deviation is sinful, dangerous, and will bring shame upon the family. If you being your authentic self is a deviation of any sort, then you will either change or be punished.
It’s harm for the sake of harm and in Sirat’s day to day life, we see just how harmful it is. She was physically assaulted by her family, is forced to endure psychological harm on a daily basis, and cannot be herself when she’s taking care of her mother. It’s a “no man’s land” sort of existence, as she says poignantly in the documentary, where you’re not really in one space or another, just in this constant middle that jerks you from one side to the next without respite. No wonder she’s tired.
Then there are the people at her work, who accept her and treat her like they should, like a human being and valued colleague. There are the beautiful moments with her friends who bring her joy and comfort. Her aunt who accepts her for who she is and encourages her to live. The heartfulness of these people and their love is necessary for Sirat so she can not just live, but also thrive. But that heartfulness and love is also important to the audience, to see that LGBTQIA+ people are loved and valued and deserve to live without the real, constant fear of bigotry and harm.
In the everyday, I Am Sirat finds the powerful and in every smile of Sirat’s, the powerful becomes radiant.