Imagine being met with fear, scorn, and disgust, or being disliked even before you enter a room. Instead of pleasantries, you are greeted by deep prejudices as you meet someone new.
Imagine, on a flight, having the seat next to you empty most of the time, as people just don’t want to sit next to you.
Doesn’t the mere thought of it fill you with anxiety? Well, that’s a reality for the 5,00,000 transgender people (as per 2011 census) living in India.
They are unfairly demonised, dehumanised, and subjected to deep social marginalisation, which apart from shoving them into a corner, makes them prone to drugs, deep abuse, and a host of mental problems.
We try to un-stereotype the community by bringing to you their thoughts – in their own words.
Down With Stereotypes
I am a software engineer, and have been working in the social sector for the last 20 years. A lot of people think transgender people are only good for sex work or begging, but I am not one of themAbhina Aher, Transgender Rights Activist
A big part of Abhina’s advocacy work involves travelling. But everyone, right from the airport security to fellow passengers, belittle Abhina for no fault of hers.
I was the first transperson to go to the White House. When you talk about clichés, an interesting incident comes to mind. I was going to the US for a trip when the airport security started laughing after seeing my laptop and camera. I was annoyed and asked them why they were laughing, to which they said, “Ma’am, don’t mind, but this is the first time we are seeing a hijra person carrying these things”... The other issue I came across was that transgender people are treated like ghosts. When I am travelling abroad or on domestic flights, people won’t take the seat next to me. To which I say, “I have got extra space, I like it..!Abhina Aher, Transgender Rights Activist
Let’s Humanise Transgender People
Just like us, transgender persons too, have dreams, hopes, fears, and anxieties. But because of our society’s emphasis on the construct of heteronormativity, we sometimes refuse to see other communities as ‘human beings’.
Transgender people are often stereotyped as people without a heart. We refuse to associate feelings of sensitivity with them. This is a myth that Bebo shatters (no prizes for guessing where she gets her name from!). Bebo dances and collects money at weddings. But she is also one with a big heart.
I am such that if I find a person in need while on a collection trip, I give money to themBebo, Dancer, Bijapur
Bebo says she has no idea why society doesn’t understand a simple fact — that transgender people like her, too, are human.
And it’s not just feelings – transgender people have good economic power too. They too, enjoy the good life, and routinely go to malls to shop.
“I go to Zara, Chanel... For my boyfriend, I go to Louis Philippe”, says Simran, who works with the NGO India HIV AIDS Alliance. To this, adds Manvi, “I like wearing lenses, and nice dresses.”
And transgender people aren’t belligerent either. As Jassi from Jalandhar says, 'I can't speak Punjabi well, but you guys are most welcome to Jalandhar'.
Video Editor: Purnendu Preetam
(All pictures used in the video are courtesy ‘India HIV/AIDS Alliance’. )
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