RainbowMan: Of Jaden Smith and Why it Takes Balls to Wear a Skirt
Harish Iyer writes about Jaden Smith’s bold pic in a skirt and why discrimination is only about one’s attitude.
Jaden Smith is my new hero. The 17 year old son of movie stars Will and Jada Pinckett Smith appeared in a women’s wear advertisement wearing clothes meant for women and totally rocked. Thank you Jaden! Most people just talk. Some people walk the talk. You, my friend, just walked and the world hasn’t stopped talking about it. Women have been wearing pants for over a century. It’s about damn time men could wear skirts without being ridiculed.
Jaden, you have encouraged millions of people to look beyond the gender binary, and more importantly, to stop looking down at anything even remotely feminine. We have lived too long in a world where it’s great to ‘have the balls’ to do something, but it’s terrible to ‘be a pussy’. It’s well known that a kick to the testicles causes a guy mind numbing pain, while vaginas pop out live humans! Shamers and haters have made it challenging for men to get in touch with their feminine side, even as women are supposed to take it as a compliment when told that they are ‘one of the boys!’ Also, accepting one’s feminine side doesn’t make a man gay!
Meanwhile, questions are being asked about Jaden’s own gender and sexuality. Some people within the LGBT community itself are criticising him for being a part of the campaign, without explicitly identifying as a trans-person. Guys, cut him some slack. He is just a kid who did something brave. Baby steps OK?
Let me take this opportunity to educate my readers about the difference between sex, sexuality and gender. Take a look at the Genderbread Person, a quirky take on the Gingerbread Man. In the first illustration, it explains in simple terms the difference between sex, gender and sexuality.
This second illustration explains some of the various permutations and combinations possible. Go through it carefully, educate and sensitize yourself.
In India, of course we label everyone from transsexuals to transgenders and the Hijra community, to effeminate men and cross-dressers as chhakkas! Guys stop using that word. It is not polite to say the least! Even the government has finally given them the dignity of being identified as the third gender. It is time we open our minds and hearts and accept our fellow human beings. I remember a senior journalist calling me for a quote on the day we achieved this major milestone. After the interview she asked me if I would like to be called ‘he’ or ‘she’. Good lord! I’m gay, not transgender or transsexual or intersex! Patrakaar bandhuon, main aadmi hoon, aadmi se pyaar karta hoon! Here, watch the original song:
As an equal rights activist, I have been campaigning for the rights of people from the entire spectrum of the rainbow. I would like to see my third gender friends get jobs. It isn’t just enough for an organization to say it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender. They must have a detailed policy on the subject in black and white. My friend Madhuri, a trans-person landed a job in the corporate sector, but was asked to not report for work as her coworkers felt uncomfortable around her. They humiliated her by saying they only had toilets for men or women. How disgusting is that attitude! The solution to the toilet problem is as simple as having gender neutral toilets! In fact, all organisations should have gender neutral toilets, in anticipation of having third gender employees, just as they have ramps anticipating differently abled employees and visitors.
As far as culture goes, the Hijra community is the oldest transgender community in India and has been an integral part of our rich history for as long as we have existed. It is time to show them some respect. Haven’t you seen 6 Pack’s cover of Pharrell William’s Happy? Watch it right now!
On that happy note, I ask you to take a deep breath, look inside yourself and find your happiness, because happy people don’t discriminate. They are just too busy being happy and spreading joy to engage in anything even remotely negative or miserable. Hai na?
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