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The recent killing of a transgender woman by a mob in Hyderabad yet again, brings to light the discrimination and violence against transgenders. It is time we realize that transgenders are ‘human’ too.
Suppose you see a transgender person at a traffic signal, what is your first response?
Like most of my guy friends, you will most probably pull down your helmet visors and roll up your windows assuming you will be harassed for money. You end up wondering as to why they beg in the first place.
Ever considered the possibility of them being forced to beg? Well then, let me bust some of these assumptions. First and foremost, lets talk about the ‘violence’ angle.
Violence against transgenders is not a new phenomenon, but not many people know this as they assume that they are the ones who cause violence. This assumption has resulted in the increase in crimes against them.
The recent killing of a transgender woman by a mob due to fake news spread over Whatsapp in Hyderabad stands as a testimony to this. Many such incidents keep occurring but very few of them make it to the news; most of them go unreported as the police in most cases refuse to even register a complaint coming from a transgender person. In fact, there have been instances where policemen have raped trans women (Yes! Transgenders are raped) in police stations as violence against transgenders is not even considered violence.
The legal system in India too handicaps this marginalized community from protecting themselves, as there is no law against the rape of transgender people. Oh wait, they even don’t have any sexual rights according to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. We as a society too have failed to be inclusive of the transgender community and have treated them as the ‘Other’ entity who can pose a threat to our lives. This inadvertently has resulted in transgenders facing discrimination at all levels.
Most transgenders firstly are abandoned by their families, have limited educational opportunities and even more limited employment opportunities that drive them to resort to begging and sex work. The name calling and social stigma that is associated with them further excludes them from mainstream society. They struggle for basic things such as ID cards, making them non-existent in a country where you can’t even die without an Adhar Card. It was noticed that in the recent Karnataka Elections more than half of the transgender population did not have a voter ID. Even when their basic human rights are violated people remain unsympathetic.
The negative social conditioning and stigma towards transgenders that is prevalent today, started when the British made laws against transgenders, and we have not been able to overcome this colonial mindset till today. Therefore, the first step towards empowering the transgender community is to stop thinking of them as the ‘Other’. This will probably lead to families not abandoning them, which will, in turn ensure education, and employers recruiting them without being judgmental. There is a need for great awareness about the atrocities faced by the transgender community to end the taboo associated with the community.
So, look up the nearest NGO that works for transgenders – talk to them, read about them and know that they are human too and most importantly speak up for their rights and tell everyone around you to not look at them with mistrust anymore.
Image Source: Facebook/Transgender India
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