Rose Venkatesan is India’s first trans-gender TV host. Her first show, called Ippadikku Rose (which means “Yours, Rose”) was broadcast on Vijay TV in 2008. She has been called the “Oprah Winfrey” of Tamil Nadu, one of India’s 28 states. (Capital: Chennai). The Tamil-language talk show discussed such topics as relationships, sex, and divorce, and was broadcast to an audience of at least 64 million people.
Rose Venkatesan was born in 1980 as a male, named Ramesh. At the age of five, Ramesh started becoming uncomfortable being a boy and started embracing his feminine side. He was dressing as a woman in his early 20s. Transsexuals are know as “hijras” in India and tend to be shunned by society, including their own families. Rose/Ramesh is a student of mechanical/biomedical engineering and worked in web design in the United States before returning to Chennai in 2003. Rose found people in Louisiana (where she spent 3 years studying) to be homophobic.
“Transgenders in India are seen as immoral and evil. I will break that image by being articulate, intelligent and a bit like the girl next door.”
- Rose Venkatesan
Vijay TV programming heads were nervous about how India’s first trans-gender TV host would be received, but Rose didn’t worry about it. A year after her show debuted, she went to Kalaignar TV and created a new show called Idhu Rose Neram (“This is Rose Time”).
In 2011, Rose moved to radio. With her new show at BIG FM 92.7, she became India’s first transgender radio jockey. By this time “Ramesh” had already undergone a sex change operation in Thailand and was now a full-time Rose.
“Not a lot has changed. I look more feminine now, I am more beautiful and I attract a lot more proposals from men, but society is still the same”
Now, Rose Venkatesan wants to form her own political party, called the Sexual Liberation Party of India. The aim of the party is to rid society of “all sexual biases” and speak for the sexual freedom of women and LGBT.