Meet India’s First Married Transgender Couple

“When I saw her, I couldn’t resist talking to her,” Aarav says of his fiancée, Sukanyeah.

When it comes to gender and sexuality, India is a mass of contradictions: The kama sutra instructs on same-sex positions, but homosexuality is still criminalized under section 377 of the penal code. And while third genders have been a part of the culture for centuries, trans Indians still face harassment and hardship.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear about Sukanyeah Krishna and Aarav Appukuttan, a trans woman and man who have fallen in love and are busy planning their September wedding.


“When I saw her, I couldn’t resist talking to her,” 46-year-old Appukuttan told The Better India. He met Krishna, 22, randomly at the hospital three years ago. “I saw her and I was really curious to get to know her. So, I initiated the conversation and we started talking.”

Both are from Kerala, a state on India’s southern tip. And having someone to talk to, who really understood how hard transitioning can be, brought them even closer.

Krishna, a software developer, has faced prejudice in her career.

“Recently I applied for a job in Bengaluru,” she recounts. “I excelled in every test, and got a great feedback. But when the employers saw my Facebook profile and figured I was a transgender person, they rejected my application.

Appukuttan’s been able to take things in stride: Whenever anyone makes fun of him, he explains, “I would just smile.”

“They would always wonder if I was a woman or a man, and I would happily clear their doubt. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, my mother taught me that.”

Sukanyeah Krishna

Falling in love happened gradually, he adds. “At the time, I was confused whether I should propose to her or not. I knew she loved me, but I wasn’t sure.”

With time, came certainty. Next month they’ll become what’s believed to be the first transgender couple in India to legally marry. (They held off until they both transitioned.) Appukuttan’s family is supportive, and while Krishna’s family has had reservations, the couple’s friends have been tremendous. “I’ve got some great friends who are stoked at the idea of us getting married,” Krishna says. “They’re the ones who’ve supported me all along and are helping us with everything.”

They’re looking forward to starting a family, too: In fact that’s a big reason they’re getting married after transitioning. “I want it to be a legal marriage, so it’s easier for us to adopt a child,” Appukuttan says. “You can’t do that without a marriage certificate.”

Krishna and Appukuttan have launched a Ketto crowdfunding campaign to help pay for their gender confirmation surgeries. You can donate here.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.