Freedom from Gender, Freedom for Sexuality #MakeOutInIndia
Unless you’re living under a rock, it is impossible that you’ve entirely missed the discussion around gender and sexual orientation. Pop culture, universities, and governments are abuzz — as they should be. Discrimination is something we MUST be discussing and debating.
Meet Shivy. Shivy is a 19-year-old trans man, who thought he was “going to die” at the hands of his parents. Threatened, hoodwinked, verbally and physically abused, Shivy fought to escape his prison. Despite all the debate and discussion, Shivy is a frightening example of the consequences of discrimination.
The world is quickly waking up to the fact that discriminating on the basis of one’s sexual preferences or gender identity is blatantly unfair and has traumatic consequences for the people involved. Amid enormous celebration, the US legalised gay marriage across all states earlier this year. Several countries followed suit. India recognised a third gender, and hired its first transgender college principal.
However, if the world resolutely marches three steps forward, there are always people who dig their heels firmly into the ground and refuse to move. Progress comes to a screeching halt. The legal mechanisms may be in place, but a 5,000 year mindset is frustratingly difficult to change.
While the Delhi High Court’s order giving Shivy protection is a cause for celebration, we have to remember that our country is full of people who believe that alternate gender identities and sexual orientations pose a threat to our ‘culture’ and our ‘traditions.’
Shivy’s Tale of Persecution By His Own Parents
Shivy escaped from his grandparents’ home in Agra and came to Delhi. His parents filed a ‘false FIR’ alleging that he had been abducted. The NGO, Nazariya, a queer feminist resource group, helped Shivy file a counter FIR.
A neurobiology student at University of California at Davis, Shivy’s passport and green card have been taken away from him. His demands from his parents are reasonable: he wants to go back to college and not be punished for being himself.
Thankfully, the Delhi High Court has stepped in and Justice Siddharth Mridul has given an interim order for Shivy’s protection.
If ending discrimination of this kind is a threat to our ‘culture,’ it may be useful to consider whether this skewed and narrow notion of ‘culture’ is at all something to cherish and preserve.