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‘My Gender Is Not Between My Legs’ – The ‘Third Gender’ Speaks Out #MyChoice

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By Sanskriti Pandey:

“My gender is not between my legs. My gender is between my two ears. I’m a human being. Whether you like it, or you don’t. It’s my choice.”

There’s a slim chance that you haven’t come across Deepika Padukone’s recent video that took social media by storm. In the video, she boldly asserts the autonomy of a woman and her right to her choices; but for a large section of our society, this ‘choice‘ acquires a different context altogether. What most of us consider as a given is their primary demand – to be treated as fellow human beings! Social media news platform The Quint joined a one of a kind celebration at Jantar Mantar in the capital this Monday – the first anniversary of the ‘Third Gender‘ recognition status given to transgenders by the SC last year. In this powerful new video, they showcased members of the community assert their choice to love their bodies, to question restrictions, and to make the world face the truth. They have shown that amidst a tumultuous storm of questions over identity, it does indeed boil down to who one chooses to be. Watch the video and drop a comment below telling us what you think of this!

To know more about what I think of this video, follow me on Twitter at @im_sanskriti.

You must be to comment.
  1. Jigsaw

    Should I type obscenities and say “my choice.” Choice comes with accountability and responsibility, something not known to feminists and hijras.

    1. swati

      No you can not type obscenities and say “my choice” because it hurt other people. There is difference between choice over oneself and other. Violating others right by bullying them, calling them names, molesting them, taking there things, killing them, these are not choices these are crimes. Every choice comes with consequences and you have to make sure who will be accounted for that. If a murder choose to murder somebody then its the murder who should be held responsible not the person who is murdered. Same way if I decided to cut my body or remove my uterus then it only affect me and Only I will be responsible. It doesn’t affect you so don’t give me punishment for my choice.

    2. Jigsaw

      When homosexuals dress up like women, and girls dress up half naked, showing their ugly bodies, and indulge in PDA it affects other people. It is not their choice.

    3. swati

      If you don’t like it then why are you looking. Many times I have seen children crying besides road or picking food from garbage, men and women indulge in verbal abuse, men pissing on roadside, boys and uncles commenting and following on school girls, people cursing transgender, old people and disable people begging, animals dead bodies lying on road, garbage dump on the roadside in open and pigs roaming on it, humans dead bodies and infant dead bodies lying in dump and many more. If we all ignore all that then why is it hard to ignore homosexual in women clothes and girls in small clothes. And what do you mean by ugly bodies, every body is beautiful and have great bodies. Why are you setting rules for somebody else? Please step outside your comfort zone then you will be able to see how half of the population live? It is very easy to sit in ac room and type anything. If you have not spend 4 days without food you won’t know what hunger is. These transgender spend there lives in hunger and poverty. These homosexual and transgenders are constant receiver of violence. If it doesn’t affect you it doesn’t mean it is non existent. Do you really think female, transgender and homosexual are dumb to do any thing without considering its consequences. Actually they know, thatswhy many homosexual marry female and lead a depressing live and in the end they suicide. But I don’t think you will ever understand this because to know what it feels like to be violated and oppress you have to go though same pain. After all only bearer know where the shoe pinch. So unless you know and feel the pain don’t write because not everybody have your privilege and you are taking the only ray of hope they have to share their story and make people understand. If you can’t understand don’t criticism because you are sensible person not a bully who want to make fun and laugh at others pain.

    4. Sanskriti Pandey

      Jigsaw, if I have to throw words like “accountability” and “responsibility” around to describe a certain section of people, I would generally be more careful with my understanding of who they are, what their fight is, and where they come from. I’d usually substantiate my argument with fact and logic rather than ignorant generalisations, in order to not attract trouble. And since you seem to be pretty femiphobic and homophobic, I don’t know if I’m making sense to you.

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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.

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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.

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