This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Urni Ganguly. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

When What ‘Disgusts’ Most About Transgenders, Actually Saved Lives During The Trilokpuri Riots

More from Urni Ganguly

By Somrita Urni Ganguly:

My grandmother used to tell me tales when I sat by her ailing bedside as a child. Legends mostly. Sometimes it was about Christ the savior and Krishna the messiah, sometimes about the Virgin Mary, and sometimes about Vishnu’s infinite variety. One story was about the Ardhnarishwar. Half male, half female. Shiva and Shakti. Symbols of Purush and Prakriti. The male and female principles united in one body. And Hindus worshipped this manifestation.

I grew up, like many others, however, fearing the ‘curse’ of the Hijra. “Pay them whatever they ask for”, an old aunt had warned me. They can be foul-mouthed otherwise. They are vicious. They curse you.

transgender1

I relocated to Delhi in 2011. I had led a rather cloistered life prior to that. Sheltered in every way a girl can be sheltered. One evening, my auto stopped at the traffic signal near IIT-D. I was accosted by a member of the dreaded Hijra community. “Kuchh dedo, Didi (give me something, sister)”, this person with stunningly beautiful eyes had said to me. I took out a 50 rupee note from my purse. “Itne se nahi hoga, Didi. Kam se kam se kam 100 toh do! (this isn’t enough; give me a hundred rupees at least)”. I had smiled a feeble smile and said, “Abhi meri scholarship nahi aayi hai; iss baar please itna hi le lijiye! (I haven’t received my scholarship yet; please make do with this much today)”. Srishti (name changed on request) laughed at me and joked, “Haai Allah, itne pyaar se bologi toh zeher bhi le lenge tumse! (Good lord, I’d even accept poison from someone who speaks to me so lovingly)”. I had winked at those eyes and said, “Arrey, arrey, aap toh bade nautanki ho! (you’re quite a dramaqueen)”.

That evening, the auto drove away as the signal turned green. Later, the man driving the auto said to me in surprise, “Madam ji aap toh padhe likhe lagte ho. Maine kabhi kisi ko kisi hijra ke sath aise baat karte nahi suna. Kuchh log toh muh pe chilla dete hain. Kuchh chup chaap seh lete hain. Aap toh aise baat kar rahe the jaise koi purana dost ho! (Ma’am, you look educated to me. I’ve never seen anyone talk to a eunuch like this before. Some people scream at them, others silently suffer them. You, however, got talking as if this person were an old friend)”. I’ve seen Srishti at that signal several times after that. Sometimes, I’ve given her a hundred rupees, sometimes only ten and sometimes just a smile. I saw her last night as well, on my my way to INA Market. I was with a friend in the auto this time. I gave her 20. My friend exclaimed, “Oh how did you manage to appease with that little?”. It is hardly a question of appeasement, I think. It is a question of acceptance.

India, as I have always maintained, is a land of contradictions. On the one hand we hail the Ardhanarishwar, on the other the Hijra community bears the brunt of all our fears and innate disgust.

My write-up has a context. The context is that of Trilokpuri. This place, tucked away in East Delhi, erupted like a dormant volcano during Diwali. Amidst the bursting crackers, fireworks of hatred spread. Muslims and Hindus engaged in communal violence in the constructed secular space of the nation’s capital. That these episodes, recurring every once in a while to taint and bloody the history of independent India, is rather unfortunate, but pointing that out is not the purpose of this article. This article wants to direct your attention to those fifteen or so eunuchs who blocked the gates of Block-B, Trilokpuri, in their attempts to stop the angry mob from entering the colony and wrecking more havoc.

I have often been told how eunuchs “thrust” their sexuality on people’s faces — a vile tactic, according to some, to extract money. On that fateful day too, the eunuchs at Trilokpuri threatened to “thrust” their alternate sexuality on this mob and the consequence that such a threat had on the crowd is remarkable. The Hijras stood guard outside the gate and cautioned the violent mob, armed with swords, lathis and stones, that they would take their clothes off if the mob proceeded any further. The illogical fear of, or inexplicable disgust towards, the third gender that makes people cough up money also made the mob stop this time. Newspaper reports suggest that this same group of eunuchs has taken turns to sit guard by the gates since the eventful day; they have also apparently undertaken a cleanliness drive, brooming away shards of glass scattered on the roads to make the streets more walkable.

The irony of the incident is profound. How our intensely sectarian society reacts to this, and responds to it, should be worth watching.

A person is born a certain way. To be afraid of or disgusted by another’s gender and/or sexuality falls in the same category of insensitivity as being afraid of or disgusted by another’s body shape, size or colour. And such crimes of insensitivity are what this country needs to train itself to not commit.

Tolerance is not what the world needs. The word is ‘acknowledgement’. Appeasement is not our demand, acceptance is.

You must be to comment.
  1. Paaliaq

    Urni many thanks, a lovely piece.

    1. Urni

      Thank you Paaliaq, glad it struck a chord.

  2. shovon

    Thanks for writing this. I hope more people learn about this story.

  3. Dilip Banerjee

    “Tolerance is not what the world needs. The word is ‘acknowledgement’. Appeasement is not our demand, acceptance is.”
    — Wonderful Young Lady. Many thanks just not for the write-up but for the conclusion you made. No Thrust – No Appeal – Bare Truth.

    Sometimes I feel the energy, thrust expensed on Education, if we could spend a bit on ‘Sharing of Knowledge’.

    —– From a Septuagenarian

  4. mrinmoyee

    Ur piece on transgender is a fantastic reminder for every other fellow who has drowned themselves in the stereotypical categories created by the society.. May be it will be, this so far unaccepted and disgusted category of people who might teach humanity, moral and responsibility to those , who are the generally accepted sex category, which our own construct of social and culture couldn’t.

  5. Rohit Panjwani

    Tolerance is not what the world needs. The word is ‘acknowledgement’. Appeasement is not our demand, acceptance is.
    These words are simple yet so pure. I wish we can spread this message all over our country. It struck a cord . Kudos.

  6. Shayna

    Bսenas,
    Tengo que reconocer es la primera vez գue he entrado el blog y debo ϲomentar que
    me resulta inteeresante y creo que entrare con frecuencia ροr tu blog.

    😉

More from Urni Ganguly

Similar Posts

By Shashi Sinha

By Vineet Ranga

By Ronak Aazad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below