The Constitution of India recognizes two types of minorities, them being, religious and linguistic. However, there also exists a community which has people from almost every section of the Indian society- the Trans-genders. According to the Indian law or the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, trans-genders are people whose gender does not match with the one assigned at birth. Though an inseparable part of the Indian society, this third gender historically has struggled to get assimilated into the mainstream society due to exploitation, discrimination and stereotypes.
Transgender- A word that immediately rushes one’s mind to imagine a person clad in saree, jewellery and make-up asking for money during birth ceremonies, marriages and on streets. This is in-spite of the various achievements of the Trans people in various fields including academics, administration, art, etc. This ignorance also extrapolates to being completely insensitive towards the needs of the community in itself. For example- absence of toilets for the 3rd gender specifically in schools, colleges, public places, etc. isn’t even considered as a grave issue that demands urgent resolution.
Worse is the fact that in terms of societal and governmental benefits and support the community is seen as almost non-existent but when it comes to being victims to some horrendous crimes, it could be seen at the fore-front struggling and suffering. Psychological extortion for owning their identity, family and social boycotts, physical molestation including rapes are what comprise the dark memories of a majority of trans-people. With the society seizing its hand of love and acceptance, many fall into the trap of prostitution, human-trafficking etc. A trans-woman said to Alliance India AIDS/HIV community based in Delhi ‘I was picked up by a group of men and raped. When my sister and I would go to work at night I would feel that each night would be my last night and I won’t survive’. Unfortunately, this is the story of those thousands of trans-genders who are regularly tortured mentally and physically in the world of prostitution and even in a society that is considered civilized.
Gauri Sawant, a trans-woman herself, a follower of Swami Vivekananda and the founder of ‘Aaji Cha Ghar’- a refuge home to protect children especially destitute girls and old trans citizens from being exploited enabling their healthcare, education and even parenting and an international fame for her role in the Vicks advertisement states that the trans-genders seen clapping on the streets asking for money is a gesture that symbolizes their angst for how the society has treated and marginalized them.
However, the picture is not all dark and society is moving ahead to recognize humans as humans without limiting and labelling them under our self-created stereotypes. Openness towards sex education, awareness via social media platforms, etc. are working onto making a society which is amicable to the trans-people. Also, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 is being seen as a step in the right direction. The fact that this Act has been passed with the inclusion of the suggestions from the community itself makes it even better. Nevertheless, care must be taken that such laws don’t just remain a part of the paper and see efficient implementation. For this, overhauling the police and the administration along with people’s mindset can be considered. Also, care must be taken that the vulnerability and sufferings of the trans-genders don’t become a means to make them exhaust their time, energy and money dealing with complicated official procedures.
People like Gauri Sawant and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi who are working selflessly and relentlessly to create a better world for all along with trans-women like Joyita Mondal, who is the first transgender Lok-adalat judge from West Bengal have created great inspirational stories that transcend the very boundary of gender identity. Also, incidences like recruiting trans-genders by the Chhattisgarh police and building infrastructure specifically for the trans-people in states of UP and MP are fast striding to make an inclusive world devoid of identity based exploitations.
India must own the Rig Vedic message of ‘Vikruti Evam Prakriti’ that means ‘What we see as unnatural is very much the part of the same nature’. Giving the 3rd gender their ‘Right to Life’ is what can enable this ignored minority realize their hidden potential which would also contribute to the progress of India. This could be our first step towards being a ‘Vishwa Guru’ enlightening the world about empathy and mutual respect.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author