Accepted By Law, Rejected By Society: How Transgender Indians Are Denied Rights

Posted by Parag Mallik in Gender & Sexuality
March 29, 2017

The society we live in is a rigid cage divided into sections varying in accordance with privilege of birth. A privilege that has been defined in terms of wealth, gender, caste, sexuality etc. Gender identity is something that has risen to indomitable heights of inequality.

It has been almost two years since Supreme Court came out in support of the transgender community assigning a legal status to them. Complimented by our leaders and celebrated by many, this decision was deemed as a step towards progress. So why do I disagree with this so-called progress?

The answer is that there barely is any progress. I say this based on my observation of recent experiences at public places. Look through your glasses and zoom into the common crowd of a railway station. Every crowd rushing towards a train leaves a trail behind. Clad in bright sparkling clothes and dramatic makeup, you can observe few transgender people hanging onto train doors, sprinting quickly to get on with their daily “jobs” which could also be termed as begging.

The transgender community is viewed with stigma, even though the Supreme Court awards them with legal status.

Along the streets of Kolkata, I saw fists banging taxi windows at traffic signals, gesturing through the glass were hands laden with bangles and red nails, shining in the sun. The gesture conveyed an established idea of bargaining blessings for money. This bargain takes place while someone of the same community holds office as a mayor, a college principal, an actor and other “dignified” professions.

So where does the fault lie? There is a clear division that we don’t see or rather don’t care to see. The court has made the required provisions but its implementation is in the hands of the Indian society.

We are equal obstructions in the transition of social mindset. Every shrug directed at them shows disgust, complete disapproval and non-acceptance towards a community as they are considered unnatural humans. Ironically, they assumes the status of god as the ardhanarishvara (an incarnation of Shiva) and are showered with prayers.

It is high time that this mockery is done away with. We need to accept the trans community in society, and help make a change in their lives, currently limited to struggling as beggars, sex workers and other forced professions based on their identity. Legalities may have changed on paper but they haven’t been established in our minds, yet. Only when that happen, will we be able to consider it a step towards progress.