In search of a place under the sun

Facing Discrimination
Last Updated 30 November 2011, 12:56 IST

It was gay abandon in all its hues. The ‘Pride March’, that drew more than 300 people from different parts of the City over the weekend, grabbed a lot of eyeballs and attracted a great deal of media attention.  Were the flashy pictures of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT or Queer) communities of entertainment value only? Do these marches create an awareness among people on accepting transgenders, without being discriminatory?

People, who took part in the march, like to call it a celebratory march rather than a transgender march.

Transgenders of all classes, castes and professions came to take part in the march. It was an occasion for the transgenders from the working class as well as the upper class to wear their sexuality on their sleeves.

Metrolife spoke to a few people to understand why transgenders still can’t walk on the street like normal people, without fear of being harassed or made fun of.

Gurukiran, who works with Sangama, an NGO, says he had to convince his family as to why he was working among transgenders.

He had to move out and set up his own place but finally after years, his family came around and understood the nature of his work.

“Today, transgenders walk in and out of my house. My little son too watches them and is used to them being around. I am sure that the march has not only given transgenders a visibility but an acceptance as well,” says Gurukiran.

He points out that the patriarchal set-up and the gender bias that the male is always on the top has people discriminate against transgenders. “We have to accept them as they are,” he adds. 

Akkaipadmashali, a transgender, wasn’t accepted into her family until recently. She says that her experience so far has been rather traumatic. She points out that a lot of people, like her, still feel very marginalised and are subjected to public humiliation.

“‘The Pride March’ was held to make our presence felt in the society. We still have a few people who smirk at us but that’s slowly changing and people have begun to give us our space. There are all kinds of discrimination but I feel Bangalore is very progressive when compared to some of the cities in the North,” she says.

Akkaipadmashali avers that no matter how many aws and legislations are passed in favour of transgenders, none will have an impact unless society opens up to them.

Nithin Manayat, a lecturer at Mount Carmel College, feels that in the society, there are a few people who choose their sexuality, dress and even choose to act in a different way but that doesn’t require them to be discriminated against.

“There are some people who don’t conform to a set pattern. I think society has a long way to go before giving more space to transgenders. They must be given an equal space and respect,” he says.    

Shubha Chacko, a researcher, points out that the ‘Pride March’ is one of the youngest movements in the country. She thinks that marches and rallies, like these, have triggered a public discourse and forced society to sit up and take notice.

 “This year, we have had gays and lesbians come out in the open and talk about their sexual preferences. It will be a long time before society accepts transgenders and this requires various strategies such as dialogues, writing and other sensitisation measures for people to take notice,” she says.

“These marches won’t make a sudden difference but they have done well in engaging the public in some debate and discussion on transgenders’ issues,” she adds.

(Published 30 November 2011, 12:55 IST)

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