We All Know, but We Do Not Know All

About the Indian Transgender Community

The second decade of the twenty first century proved healthy for the transgender community marking multiple changes in the law and cultural representation, still the question remains that why did the society and constitution take so many years to recognize the community.

Gender fluidity has remained an integral part of classical Indian myths, but the question remains that why the community has remained obscure in literature and culture. On one hand the availability of cultural representations surrounding lesbians, gays, bisexuals have remained in a much better position than that of the transgender community, though it is the hijra community in the Indian subcontinent which is the most visible of all. The visibility is contributed by their dressing, slang, and, professions they choose.

Indian myths have not only covered stories surrounding characters with gender fluidity, but have also treated them as normal, and close to truth. From Shikhandi in Mahabharata, a female who became male, to the presence of males in the puranas who bore children from their own bodies, Indian literature offer more insight into gender fluidity than anything else. It shows that gender is not restricted to only two categories. Though the literature was moving in the right direction, it was the law and society which took a different turn.

LGB often hide their sexual preferences and gender identities inside the closet, transgenders have failed to do so. In majority of cases, they are denied support by family and society and are often thrown to lead their lives on fringes where they fight every day for survival. For them the concepts of identity and representation remains a far cry.

According to the available information and researches on the community, it is believed that the Indian society was not as tight a space for free gender expression as it has now become. With the bill imposed by the British government in 1861 which officially criminalized homosexuality in the country, things took a different turn. Relationships, excluding between men and women, had by now seen through the western eyes as abnormal and against the order of nature. The British rule ended in 1947. While the world’s longest constitution was trying to be assimilated with what was ignored and left on the fringes, Article 377 was adopted as it was which termed the activities “against the order of nature” as illegal and subject to punishment in the Indian court of law. Following all this, the community suffered in more than one dimension. Not only their identity, but the representation of the identity according to the commonly held belief was also repressed.

Now the question arises that was repression enough to hide these voices and representations. Does the power works through repression? According to queer theorists, power works through production rather than repression. For transgender community it works by producing a discourse called heterosexuality and labelling it as normal. Heterosexual couple bound by the code of marriage became the norm, and relationships with sexual orientations outside it were termed as abnormal and against the order of nature. For a long time, homosexuality not only suffered in the hands of society, but more than that it suffered in the hands of law.

In the last decade, the community has been able to accomplish a lot in the matter of law. The community was now being recognized as the third gender. From being rejected by the society and law, to a time when every identity proof, recruitment form, and admission form has a third column for gender after male and female.

The year 2018 saw the abolishment of the long-held article 377, which was an important step for the whole LGBTQ community. The law and society hold the view that transgenders have been given all the rights and Article 377 was their only obstacle, but the truth is that there is yet a lot of things to be changed to make this country a better and safe place for the community. The members of the trans community have suffered harassment and violence in the hands of law under the pretext of Section 268 of the Indian Penal Code which reads that any person guilty of public nuisance is subject to punishment in the eyes of law. Any person found causing annoyance, danger or injury to people in the vicinity and the ones who have the right to use public places will be held guilty of breaking the law. There are instances when the community members are picked by the police under this section and harassed. With section 268, section 320 also serves as a loophole which is often used against the community. The section covers the offence of grievous hurt. The point mentioned under section 320 which is often used against the community says that any hurt which endangers your life or forces the sufferer to be bed ridden during the space of twenty days with severe body pains and unable to carry his ordinary tasks is an offence.

Transgender community has been struggling to make law and society hear what both have been ignoring since decades. At this stage it is important for all to accept what is natural. Freedom of gender and sexuality should be normalized rather than criminalizing it.

About Author /

BlogOpine is about anything which converges with life, but not everything which do so. BlogOpine is about what is new, but it does not skip what has already passed.

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