It was at a festival in the nearby temple in Kerala when I first saw her. She was dressed up in bright red saree, decked up with a lot of makeup all over her.
She looked beautiful.
She was gracefully dancing to the beats of ‘Chenda’ along with her friends. But something about her confused me. That’s when my friend told me that she is a ‘Hijra’ and people like her cannot be considered as men or women.
I saw her again in trains and buses, being flirty with men and asking them for money. I saw her again in a wedding ceremony as they are worshiped sometimes and their blessings are supposed to bring luck and prosperity.
I felt scared and sorry for her. She was a transgender woman and that changed everything.
Transgender people are considered as an outcast due to their sexuality. If you think gay men and lesbians are treated unfairly, our treatment towards trans people will be very disturbing to think about.
Starting from childhood, our boys are forcefully plunged into a conventional form of masculinity and toughness by the Universe. They are forbidden from crying or displaying any form of compassion just because they are born as men. The slightest form of interest in anything ‘girly’ is considered as a shame and indignity for him. So we swiftly move the barbie doll and replace it with a giant truck! Sweat! Sports! Beer!
And when it comes to a person whose biology and anatomy is at constant conflict, life could pretty much be a nightmare. Stories of such people being humiliated and stripped naked, manhandled and sexually abused have always reserved at least one column in our newspapers every day. Yup, right next to the column where they put the latest rape cases.
In my city, Trans women on traffic signals and trains, demanding money from passengers are a daily sight. And sometimes I have seen them attempting to be aggressive by using foul language and lewd gestures when someone refuses to pay them money. Because not everyone can have the luxury of Caitlyn Jenner! Bruce Jenner? No? Olympic gold medal winner? Wait, Kim Kardashian’s stepfather? There you go!
But things are changing. Recently, the news about hiring Trans people for Kochi Metro had us feel hopeful about humanity. For me, considering Trans people to have decent jobs, is even bigger than having a Metro station itself!
Kerala had been showing great concern over the misery of transgender community lately and that have opened many doors for this minority to have better living conditions. Not just jobs, Kerala was the first Indian state that considered making Sex Change Surgeries free. People struggling with their identities in the state had to go to Bangalore or Chennai for such surgeries and sometimes, their struggle does not see any light because of financial constraints since these surgeries can be quite expensive.
There is a lack of expertise in our doctors to carry out such surgeries, but a stable effort is being made by the government to skill up our doctors. And this brings hope for our people. Well, not for the people who say that they are animals and secretly masturbate to Transgender porn. Sigh!
Even though the state is offering jobs to Trans people, the problems won’t end there. For truly making their life normal, care must be given from the childhood. Trans children are often denied admission in schools and if at all they manage to get in, nobody can promise them equal opportunities. This brings us to Sahaj International School in Kochi. This is the first Transgender School in India. Though we had problems finding land for constructing this school, it was a Christian Organization that finally gave away a rent-free land on lease.
Religions have always been intolerant towards the LGBT community as it is considered as a taboo to have mental deviations from one’s anatomy in the Holy books. A religious organization willing to come forward and breaking the norms for giving land for the education of Trans children definitely need to be applauded.
Kerala’s openness towards the LGBT community is getting extensive day by day. When Section 377 of IPC that Criminalizes sexual intercourse ‘against the order of nature’ was implemented, then MP and known writer Shashi Tharoor had tried to move a bill in Lok Sabha to amend the law. Even though the ruling party in the state changed in time, Tharoor still tries to push the bill, showing us the actual meaning of having political groups in our country! People before Politics bro!
It is not a ‘rainbows and unicorns’ situation right now, but it is heartwarming to see our Country making history and standing up for equality. Trans people are just another community in our society and not something that should be worshiped or scared for. When there are lesser inequalities amongst our citizens, mankind will blossom with growth and progress.
So if you see someone and try hard to figure out their gender, do this one step – stop trying.
And no matter what your gender is, we all are entitled to have equal opportunities and choices!