The first question we usually ask new parents is: “Is it a boy or a girl?” There is a great answer to that one going around: “We don’t know; it hasn’t told us yet.”’ – Kate Bornstein, 1995
Identity is one prerequisite because of which you could belong to a society or you could be ostracized. One’s life could be just thrown into darkness for not possessing definite attributes distinct enough to categorize. One such form of identity is Gender.
What are all the myths we carry about the transgender? They live crazy lives, they are confused, they do not know their gender, they hate their bodies, they are gay, they are mentally disturbed, they are radical liberals, they perform drag shows and so on. Reality is that they live quite normally as anyone else would. Well, it is not totally our fault to believe in dogmas; we were conditioned in such a way. Lack of scientific information is also a reason. Transsexual children start identifying their sexuality at quite an early age. They start feeling uncomfortable in their bodies. A boy may like to dress like a girl and play with dolls and a girl may want to look like a boy. Gender identity is what one feels from inside and sexual orientation is to whom one is attracted to. Transsexual persons may not necessarily be gay; they may turn out to be lesbian, gay or bisexual later.
Countries and governments are unable to rise above their stereotypes about gender. Such rigid opinions lead to marginalization of a few who are 1 in 1000. Apparently, 1 in 1000 is being deprived of the right to live the way they like just for who they are. It is the orientation of the brain with which they recognise themselves as either man or woman. Calling this abnormal and telling them they are wrong is just absurd. It is nature induced. No medical treatment, therapy or surgery can alter someone’s biological lineament.
Families undergo an odyssey when their children tend to reject the sex they have been assigned based on genitals. Eventually, they give up to the societal norms and abandon them. Today, they all live in communities, transgender women and men all live like a family. They live their real selves away from family and the society in which they were brought up. But, it is an everyday ordeal for them to stand rejection where ever they go.
They have no resources to sustain their lives as nobody treats them like fellow human beings and vehemently refuse to employ them. A high percentage of population in our country do not have any social security, above all ‘hijras’ (Transgender) stand the most marginalized in every society, suffer grave abuse of human rights and vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse. They have similar dreams like everyone, a good education, a lucrative job and career and a family. They are rightfully entitled to live a respectable life. Most of the time they are forced either to beg or get into demeaning jobs like sex work to make their ends meet.
There are yet a number of success stories. Kalki from Chennai, a transgender woman reveals how she had managed to complete her education despite all odds thrown out by parents and society. Away from home she was subjected to sexual and verbal abuse multiple times. Like all transgender children she was judged and insulted at the schools and colleges where she studied. She completed her B.A. in English followed by an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication. Presently, she is pursuing her second M.A. in International Relations. Kalki stands out as an inspiration to many others discriminated.
A ray of hope had emerged out when the chief secretary of Maharashtra held talks on improving social conditions of sex workers, transgender and MSM people. He asked the officials to expedite the process of issuing identification cards such as voter ids, ration cards and Aadhar cards. Tamil Nadu on the other hand has recognised them as ‘third sex’. A transgender welfare board was formed in 2008. They are now entitled to all government services equally with all. They are being readily incorporated to mainstream media and film industry. A local Tamil TV channel has broken all taboos with their talk show being hosted by a trans woman called Rose.
Despite all efforts they are still dubbed as a minority and not accepted in social circles. Recently a transgender woman, Swapna from Madurai had appealed to the government through an RTI to open the prestigious Civil Services exam to the third sex. How does sexuality measure somebody’s calibre to be a good administrator? Hopefully the government should treat them equally in order to help many such aspirants to realize their dreams. The feminists of our country have an extended responsibility to put the transgender women in mainstream society by fight for their right to dignity and advocating their personal freedom. The public needs to be educated about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, encouraged to leave behind dogmas, accept all kinds of sexualities and respect their rights. This would solve all issues surrounding the transgender, only then we will be a successful democracy.