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INDRANI BANERJEE

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 6/15/2015 |






The Supreme Court granted legal status to the members of the  Indian transgender community in April 2014 ,which means India's highest court has recognized the existence of a third gender that is neither male nor female in a landmark judgement hailed by the transgender community.

This legal status meant a huge victory to the people who fight for gender equality, lawyers of human rights and members of the LGBTQ section. Just few years ago, around 2013 Supreme Court had banned same sex marriage. This was a major setback to the LGBTQ nation who suffers insults, discrimination and inhumane torture every day because of the so called existence of “medieval” mentality and much misunderstood social status quo. The top court's ruling ends a brief interlude when the much-misunderstood LGBT community felt they had a rightful place in the country. A High Court in 2009 had struck down a law that criminalized gay sex with long jail terms, and unshackled them to lead normal lives. In a country where LGBTQ  people faces inhuman  treatment from their families and society , the acknowledgement of a third gender became a revolutionary step for people who believes in equality of sexes .The biggest problem in India is instead of confronting LGBTQ issues and concerns we try to cover them up as sickness , mental problem etc. But its back to square one now, and the LGBT community is bracing for a fresh protracted battle to earn back its rights.

It's the toughest for the transgender community to live in a social milieu that has very little understanding of them and subjects them to regular ridicule. For years, they have loudly proclaimed that they were perfectly normal human beings, albeit with a different sexual orientation. But as society struggles to understand and embrace them, transgender continue to live on the margins. They laugh, cry, love, dream, despair and do everything else as everyone else does. Only, life seems a lot tougher for a transgender individual with mindsets stacked against them.
In this article, the attempt had been taken to go through the life of transgender, lesbian, gay and queer people, their struggle and focusing on the achievement of some them, who fought against every odds and became inspiration for others. This is actually a dedication to all the warriors of alternate sexuality who are fighting on a daily basis to accept/acknowledge and prove that this also a part of normal sexual existence.

DR. MANABÍ BANADYOPADHAY

“India‘s first transgender college principal”

Born as Somnath Banerjee, he showed all the signs of a feminine male child and as he was growing up signs of his feminine identity became more prominent. Quite naturally he was not accepted by the traditional orthodox society. Although, his sisters stood by him, he still faced agitation of his family and friends.

He was not born a man although he was born into a perfect male body. People tried to convince him he had a medical condition, mental problem and that he was suffering from identity crisis. He, through his life and struggle by then has understood the meaning of a Transgender and tried to make people aware of the meaning of being a transgender through his own existence. A Transgendered (TG) person is someone whose gender identity (man or woman) does not match their biological sex (male or female). For most people, there is no       incongruity between their biological sex and their internal gender identification. For TG people, their gender identity is in conflict with their biological sex. Yes! The term Transgendered (TG) is an umbrella term used for many kinds of people with differing gender expression. In 2003, however he underwent sex change surgery. Soon he changed his name from Somnath to Manabí which means a female or woman in Bengali. During this transition, there was turbulent in his personal life as well. He was in love with his partner Abhijit Pahari and Abhijit could not take the torment of the society and soon abandoned Somnath. Somnath was accused of "sinister and anti-social activities, he was beaten up multiple times, he received threats and even his colleagues in the university he taught did not support him. One of the administrative council member even stated that the job was given to Somnath not Manabí hence there was turmoil over his employment too. Surprisingly his student stood by him.

What has changed during this transition? Manabí said “Time of course my soul did not change and my struggle did not change.” Although she is now an inspiration to the LGBTQ community but most of the people are of the opinion that she is a ray of light that touches everyone in some way or the other because the fight for her sexual identity was also her fight for being honest and accepting thing or facts like they are.

Dr. Manabí Bandyopadhay who wholeheartedly thanked the Indian Supreme Court for their decision stated that the society needs to recognize and acknowledge the third gender otherwise this will be a mere recognition on papers and still die its brutal death daily . Here we in India are in aTabooland. None of them could talk about this to anybody around them. They would be banished from family and social life, forced to join the Hijras and hike out a living begging on the streets.

AJAY MAFATLAL

Hailing from one of the richest family of India the journey of becoming a man from a woman was not smooth for Ajay who used to be known as Aparna before his sex change surgery in 2003 .Struggle included identity crisis. Ajay had all the mannerism for a boy when was growing up but being brought up in an orthodox household which happened to be one of the richest family of India, he was asked to suppress /hide his sexuality or “existence” as he prefers to call it .He was even married but walked out of it in 1979 at the tender age of twenty three. Undergoing a sex change surgery in India is not easy because the atrocities rejection  received before the surgery do not always after the surgery , what changes is one’s own perception about his/her identity and once again the courage and pride to stand up for one’s own decision .

GHAZAL DHALIWAL

As a child and a teenager, for a long time, she used to think she was the only one in the whole world who was trapped by wrong anatomy. Today, as a woman released from the chains of her own body, she believe that Talking is the only way to counter the loneliness that comes with Gender Dysphoria. Sharing of a little Hope is the only way to spread a little Happiness to our Hearts! From a shy Punjabi Sikh guy to a beautiful girl this transition has made Ghazal to understand and appreciate one thing and that is “love “. Love is not only for others but for one owns self too. “I did not undergo a sex change surgery so that I could be with a boy or man, I wanted to appreciate the respect the love I have for myself”. Recently Ghazal was one of the guest in Satyamave Jayete , a show hosted by Bollywood actor Amir Khan . Her take on her sexuality, her struggle and finally the support from her family and friends was something to take lesson from. Ghazal is a script writer in movies and lyricist based in Mumbai.

How was the story so far? The fight, the struggle the tears? Did you guys feel their hidden pain? India’s booming economy, its global presence , upcoming sky scrapers and shopping malls might give competition to the western world but what it fails to do is to hide its medieval society , its age old superstitious social values and age old decaying oppression that takes place every now and then . Even now a hermaphrodite child is handed over to the “Hijra” community be his / her parents. News of castrations sweeps in every now and then, and we then try to ignore or not to pay any attention to these stories as it might hurt our prejudice, sexual abuse, being drugged and raped seems a daily occurrence. These are some of the testimonies of the people of alternate sex in India -- known as eunuchs, transsexuals, or those who are "neither male nor female."

So far we talked about their struggle, the strugglers, the losers and winners who defy, challenge social norms to be whom they are. Now we will shift our attention to those people who are not the sufferers or warriors but the soldiers or leaders on whose shoulder’s the responsibility of this invisible fight kind of depend, the doctors, the human right lawyers or surgeons who help the victims create a new identity or recreate their identity. Most of the time they are also the victim of Indian social dilemma. Let’s take a look at few strange situation that they have encountered:

India has a patriarchal society which means culturally we prefer sons. It might seem unbelievable but transgender surgeries rise across social strata and culturally preferring a male child .Sex change surgery is no longer for individuals trapped in the wrong body with a soul of the opposite sex, on a growing number parents preferring a male child are opting for sex change surgeries for their children just for a male heir. Dr. Sukhdayal Singh Sethi of Delhi , Calcutta based plastic surgeon Sheila Rohatgi has faced similar situation where parents come with strange requests or lie about their child ‘s sexuality . Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala are also of similar opinion. Changing an individual‘s sex is not a matter of joke,

Hence, the verdict of Supreme Court will not be fulfilled unless and until we become socially responsible towards the third sex or recognize and respect alternate sexuality.

[INDRANI BANERJE]



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