Friday, 15 July 2016

Transforming our Minds towards Transgenderism

Transgenderism has always been a contentious matter all around the globe. The transgender communities, from different ethnicities and faith, have been fronting discrimination and discernment since ages. The word ‘transgender’ acts as an umbrella term incorporating numerous identities including transgender males, transgender females, male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM). It even embodies cross dressers (those who wear clothes of the other sex), gender queer people (those who feel they belong to either both genders or neither genders) and transsexuals.

But in a society where people equate gender identity with sexuality or sexual orientation, we cannot expect them to be aware and conscious about the varied distinguished representations. In India alone, there subsists a wide range of transgenders associated individualities signified as Hijras, Aravanis, Kothis, Shiv Sakhtis, to name a few. The Indian society will acquaint itself with the sophisticated comprehension regarding sexuality and gender identity, once we open our minds to this information and embrace the social acceptance of such folks instead of living in oblivion.

Nevertheless, I would connote that the status of this community has appreciated with the Supreme Court passing a law recognizing transgenders as a “third gender” in its radical judgement, back in 2014. However, there seems to be a vast difference between their recognition and conglomeration into the mainstream society. It is said that the rule of law is supreme and everyone is alike in the eyes of the law, yet the third gender fights oppression, discrimination, and abuse from every part of the society. With the court rupturing the traditional gender structure of man and woman as acknowledged by modern day civilization, the veracity differs.

Hijras have been simultaneously feared and revered in our country. Often travelling in groups, they can show up at a wedding or at a baby christening and demand a recompense showering else the wedding will be completely ruined by a raucous gang of brazenly dancing hijras or the baby will be cursed, which postulates the factor of fear. They are often referred to as vectors of HIV and can also be seen begging on traffic signals in order to support their sustenance.

But then, do they have an alternative? With absolutely no resources at their disposal, ostracized by their families, propelled by the society, harassed and assaulted at different points of their lives, how can these individuals attempt at procuring a decent lifestyle for themselves. They have fewer opportunities as compared to the conventional genders, they hardly receive any education due to their non-acceptance into various institutions, and seldom do we witness a skilled individual from this distinctive community in a formal employment setting.

We need to accept and acknowledge them in all their exclusivity. We are all assigned a gender at birth, AGREED. But then, sometimes the assignment doesn’t go well with our inner truth and thus, the quest for self-identification commences. Going along these lines, isn’t then the third gender living a real, authentic life, which shouldn’t be questioned by anyone? Their fight is the fight for equality. However, this is a bit too much to ask, given our patriarchal society where the females are still struggling to attain equal opportunities. This is what gender equality is all about. We have to encompass the third gender too. Anything less is hypocrisy and an affront to the premise of justness.

The 6 Pack Band, Seatbelt Safety video, and many other individuals of this gender who are now shrugging off years of stigma and shame and breaking into the corporate, creative, bureaucratic fields exhibit the fact that social acceptance is looming towards them. But, they still remain marginalised.

I would say that identifying oneself with a specific gender is extremely personal. Not all of us are born the same way, but we are all humans. We can choose to respect and uphold the rights of transgender people because lives matter, every single life. All transgenders don’t get it as easy as Caitlyn Jenner.Only an unprejudiced and uninhibited mindset will pave the way for the “third gender” to secure a decent stance in the society. There is still a long way to go!

Written by Chhavi Minhas
“A free spirit, dreamer and admirer of this puzzle called life”

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