Jaisingh Nageswaran


Once every year, the lodges and hotels in this small sleepy town called Villupuram come to life. Thousands of transgenders, cross-dressers, lovers, customers, and curious onlookers descend here to live life to the fullest for just a few days. One by one, they start to unshackle and reveal their true identities. They spend more time in front of the mirror, deriving great pleasure in looking at their newly transformed selves. Such simple little things and moments become very special and meaningful for them. However, solidarity with and empathy towards trans individuals did not come naturally to me.
I remember having misconceptions about and being uncomfortable around transgender people in the society in which I lived. But questions gnawed at me: Who are they? Why do I fear them and try to stay away from them? At the same time, I was curious, puzzled by the duality that had baffled me since I was a child. I felt that the only way to know them was to get closer to them and understand their feelings and emotions. I was shy at first, but at the lodge I was able to get to know them, and I realised that I could relate to their struggles, being on the margins myself. I am a Dalit—an “untouchable”—living in the interior of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the caste system remains ingrained in society.

Jaisingh Nageswaran is a self-taught photographer from the town of Vadipatti in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu, India. Born dyslexic to working-class parents, he was educated at home by his grandmother. Jaisingh's practice revolves around documenting socially vulnerable communities and life in rural villages. While working as a member of the artist collective “13 Jara,” he remains active as a photographer, shooting stills for films. In 2021, he became a Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow. Recently, his work “I feel like a fish” was displayed at the 13th African Photography Biennale.

Kyoto Art Center

546-2 Yamabushiyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto