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Indian Content Creators Need To Stop Making Transphobic Reels In The Name Of Entertainment!

Indian content creators, especially cis het men, need to understand that it isn't enough to give a mere disclaimer saying "it's for entertainment" when this transphobic content reaches so many millions.

Trigger Warning: This deals with transphobia and may be triggering for people who have to face it.

While scrolling through Facebook last night, I came across a reel which made me question if the Indian society is genuinely as accepting towards the transgender community as they claim to be. Here’s the link.

In the reel, the maker, @aashqeen is shown to describe his experience with a ‘perfect girl’. He explains how she is someone who lights his cigarette, pays her share of the petrol when he drops her to her place, doesn’t disturb him when he is busy with his friends, and even plays video games with him. However, he is soon heartbroken when he walks into her standing and urinating in a washroom. He screams with disgust and the girl responds to him by saying, “Baby, daro mat, operation ke baad sab theek ho jaayega,” (Baby, don’t worry, everything will be alright after my operation).

At this point, the music of the reel changes from the romantic ‘Kaise Mujhe’ from Ghajini (2008) to an Indianised version of ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ from Harry Potter (2001-2010) to signify that he walked into some supernatural creature. The man has a horrified expression and the girl has an embarrassed one. 

As a queer woman, I found this reel to be extremely transphobic and derogaory towards my entire community. When will privileged cis-het men stop treating trans women as flawed individuals in the name of comedy? 

There are numerous things wrong with the video. Here are a few of them that I wanted to point out:

It gives a message that transgender women are not perfect

The video has ‘that perfect girl’ written on it till the very end. It becomes clear with the weird music playing in the end and @aashqeen’s expression that he meant all of it in a sarcastic way. 

It is very problematic that we still have people in this country who create videos that are aimed at making trans women feel insecure about their identities. If someone is trans, are they imperfect? 

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It makes it appear as if trans women need to be embarrassed over their identity

Indian cis men need to understand that trans women don’t owe them any explanation about their identities.

If someone says she is a woman, she is, in every way, a woman. Thus, creating content in which a trans woman is forced to explain her identity proves how trans exclusionary most people still are.

It assumes that a person’s genitals define their gender identity

We all need to internalise the fact that not having a vagina doesn’t make anyone less of a woman. Keeping that in mind, a man walking into a woman while she is urinating can not actually be the climax of a reel or a video. Why should a woman’s genitals play a role in how she is perceived by the world?

It propagates a notion that trans women MUST undergo a sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in order to be accepted

SRS is a personal choice that trans people have the right to make on their own. Some of them are unable to get it done due to their personal problems and some choose to not get it done due to multiple reasons. 

In the reel, the girl feels the need to explain how she will get it done soon. This is not something any trans person should be forced to say to their partners or anyone else. Our community needs to stop pressurising trans people to get SRS done and shaming them over it.

@aashqeen’s caption mentions, “Tabhi sochu itni understanding kaise thi,” (that’s why she was so understanding)

His caption clearly proves that he considers cis gender women to be incapable of understanding men the way trans women do. By doing so, he equates a trans woman to a man which is highly unacceptable. It is a horrible assumption that trans women are more like men than women.

This particular reel has over 9.5 million views and more than 298 thousand likes. Can you imagine the scale to which this misinformation is reaching? The engagement on a reel that can trigger a trans person’s dysphoria is much more than that on other reels that @aashqeen has posted in the recent past. All of this only makes me believe that there are millions of transphobic people in our country in the present day who make absolutely no efforts to understand how difficult it is to be trans in a cisnormative world. 

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About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A literature student who spends most of her time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

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