Local Women Join in Joy & Sorrow of Transgenders to Mark ‘World Transgender Remembrance Day’
- A Bevy of Local Women Join in the Joy & Sorrow of Transgenders to Mark “World Transgender Remembrance Day”, organized by Soulo Conversations- a group of Women Citizens of Mangaluru in association with Parivarthan Charitable Trust, Mangaluru at the residence of Ms Sabrina Hougaard, Highlands- Mangaluru on Tuesday, 20 November at 6 pm.
Mangaluru: In the course of the evolution of mankind, we have defined and accepted the concept of man and woman – the sexual, emotional, practical and other roles as defined by those two genders. But now we also have the “OTHER” gender. How do we define this other gender, how do we understand them, what they think, feel, wish, hope and aspire to achieve in life. To help us grasp what it means to be defined as the OTHER gender Ms Usha Rao, an educationalist by profession, but also a human being with a heart, mind and soul, led Ramya, Banupriya, Srinidhi, Zarina, Rekha and Sandhya from Parivarthan Charitable Trust (PCT) in conversation, to mark the World Transgender Remembrance day which is observed in memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
The programme was held on Tuesday, 20 November 2018 at 6 pm at the residence of Ms Sabrina Hougaard, Highlands-Mangaluru, who is a founder of Soulo Conversations-, in association with Parivarthan Charitable Trust, Mangaluru. Nearly 50 plus local women joined and interacted with nearly 20 plus Transgenders belonging to Parivarthan Charitable Trust. The women listened to the horrific stories of what a few transgenders had to share of their journey, right from their change of sex from male to female, the trauma later in the days, and their present lives. Their stories brought tears to few of the women who attended the conversation. Indeed it was a very emotional, and at the same time, a joyful day when the women found out that few of the transgenders have been brought to the mainstream by PCT.
Ms Usha Rao and Ms Sabrina Hougaard briefing the audience about Transgenders said, “Transgender people are individuals whose gender identities do not pertain to their biological sex, and thus they differ from the stereotype of how men and women normally are. ‘Transgender’ does not include sexual orientation or physical sex characteristics, but is, in fact, a less clinical term which pertains to gender identity and gender expression. Thus transgender people encompass those people whose identity and behaviour do not adhere to the stereotypical gender norms. Since the beginning of time and the existence of mankind, transgenders have been very much a part of the society. It is just that they have been given a name and a status in the society in recent times, and now there is even medical technology available especially for them”.
Ms Rao and Ms Hougaard further said, “The problems faced by the transgender people here include: they are shunned by family and society alike; They have restricted access to education, health services and public spaces; Till recently, they were excluded from effectively participating in social and cultural life; Politics and decision-making processes have been out of their reach; Transgender people have difficulty in exercising their basic civil rights; Reports of harassment, violence, denial of services, and unfair treatment against transgender persons have come to light; and Sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is criminalized, and is punishable by incarceration. Therefore we the women in the society should have to understand these Transgenders, and try to accept them, and make them feel like they are also like us and enjoy the same freedom and benefits like regular women”.
Each person has a unique existence, which although is temporal and fragile can hardly be captured in language, but rather in the singularity and uniqueness we possess. This is to say, there are no others. This said, one can then boldly remind that there are those of us and those amongst us who exist in what can simply be called, the “betweens”. Those who transcend physical sex, and whose sole existence is the acknowledgment of the malleability of the concept of embodiment. Gender queer is a term used to identify persons those who identify as neither male nor female and prefer, in fact, to not be viewed in a binary manner. Many trans and gender diverse persons are killed, violated, persecuted, isolated, discriminated against, and stigmatized for their mere existence in a world that still largely holds patriarchy in the highest esteem.
Therefore, in remembrance of these victims, The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) also known as World Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed annually on the 20th November, as a say to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. This programme of conversation between the Transgenders and regular women raised awareness of this day and against hate crimes against transgender persons globally. It is learnt that as of 1st October 2018, a total of 368 cases of reported killings of trans and gender diverse people had been recorded globally. These deaths emanated from discrimination and stigma, and are part of a structural and ongoing circle of oppression that keeps trans persons deprived of basic rights.
During the programme transgenders Ramya, Banupriya, Zarina, Rekha and Sandhya shared their horrific tales as to how they suffered the pain during the sex change from male to female, which was done not in the hospital, but through vintage ways- but they all said that they are all happy to be women now, because it was their wish to be a woman. Winner in the recently concluded ‘First Parivarthan Beauty Pageant for Transgenders’, Sanjana and Runner Up in the same pageant Srinidhi said that they owe big thanks to PCT for giving them an opportunity to unleash their talents for the first time and walk on the ramp in front of a huge audience, thereby making a big difference in their lives. They also attributed their gratefulness to PCT for helping them in getting the Aadhar Card, Voters ID card, enroll them in beautician course, and many other facilities.
Observing all the inconveniences, hassles, problems and discrimination faced by the Transgenders in the society, Ms Violet Pereira, who had founded the Parivarthan Charitable Trust speaking on the occasion said, “30 August 2016 was a unique day in the history of Mangaluru that a ‘unique Trust’ benefiting a ‘unique community of Transgenders’, where the birth of ‘Parivarthan Charitable Trust (R) took place, aiming to bring “changes” in the lives of Transgenders. Ever since its inception Parivarthan Charitable Trust has always been struggling to bring the transgenders to the mainstream of the society. Most of them long to live a normal life and want to be treated equally without any discrimination; and many of them literally requesting the society to provide them with jobs so that they could have dignified life like others. The Trust has helped the transgenders get their Aadhar Card, Voters ID card, Ration Card, protected them from attackers, provided them shelter with reasonable rent, and many other facilities. The Trust solicits the support from the citizens so that together we can bring awareness among the general public about transgenders who are in no way different from us and provide them with jobs and other facilities from the government”.
Following the conversation part of the programme, a candlelight vigil was held in the premises, where candles were lit and exchanged between the participating women and the Transgenders to mark ‘World Transgenders Day of Remembrance”, and also to let know the Transgender community that the women too care about them, and look forward to making a difference in their lives through unity and friendship. Phyllis Maria D’Costa, a member among the audience thanked Parivarthan Charitable Trust and Soulo Conversations for hosting such an emotional and very sentimental programme, which brought Transgenders and regular women together in harmony and love.
In conclusion in my perspective, the vilification of diversity causes society to question the definitions of a person, and not respond to the violence inflicted on a human being, who is living in a country often applauded for her human rights protection mechanisms. Therefore this evening which marked the “World Transgenders Remembrance Day”, a bevy of women from the society were invited to think about their part in society, as an individual who either encourages or dissuades diversity, through violence. The women were invited to take a moment and consider the many lives lost, not to ignorance, as is often postulated, but to hatred, and hatred of those whose lives are forcing us to reflect on our own existence. Thanks to all the 50 plus caring and loving women from the society who joined in this unique conversation, thereby putting miles of smiles on the Transgenders, who were probably looking forward for such a programme. These women did make a difference in the lives of these Transgenders!
In Conclusion, “Here is Parivarthan, a Trust which will especially work for the welfare of the transgenders. A Trust aimed to bring all transgenders to the mainstream by empowering them. As witnessed, most of the transgenders lead their life begging or being involved in sex work, but the Trust will help them lead a dignified life, the Trust will conduct workshops and provide skill development training for them. This Trust was launched because of the need of the hour-the only role model a young or middle-aged trans-person sees in the community now is either a person begging on the streets or engaged in sex work. It was very important to change that demotivating perception and bring positive role models of the community. The Trust will try to educate on various gender identities under the Transgender umbrella-it will be an important source as the first line of action to fight discrimination and increase acceptance within families for Transgenders.
Finally, each being in this Universe is indeed unique, and an integral part of Nature. It would thus be wrong to judge and discriminate people who may be different from the stereotype, which again is man-made. It is time that India realized that every individual in this country has equal rights and privileges, and follow the policy of “live and let live.” Let’s treat the Transgenders equally, after all, we are all God’s children created equally. I end this column with the quote from Ban Ki-Moon:
“To those who are bisexual, or transgender-let me say- you are not alone. Your struggle, for the end to violence and discrimination, is a shared struggle. Today, I stand with you. And I call upon all countries and people, to stand with you too. A historic shift is underway. We must tackle the violence, and end discrimination. We must educate the public. I call on the people of the world and people of conscience to make this happen. The time has come.”
by Alfie Dsouza