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And to think, these are some of the rare cases that got some publicity. There must be so many more suicides among trans persons that aren't reported.
Trigger Warning: This speaks of transphobia, homophobia, depression and suicide, and can be triggering for survivors.
“Karnataka Trans Woman Seeks Euthanasia (mercy killing); Why?” read a news caption in September.
Euthanasia for me has always been a sensitive subject, how heartbreaking would it be for someone to plead for a loved one’s death? I mean it would take such immense restrain to take this decision, and the slightest ray of hope, a faint light of survival would bring a change of heart altogether.
And here she is, requesting the authorities to end her life. A young healthy woman, all of but twenty-two years. It seems she was in fact advised by some people in higher positions, to go ahead and commit suicide. Or sell her body if nothing else worked.
And her fault? She was different, she wasn’t always a woman.
When she realized she was a woman trapped in a man’s body, she decided to come out.
Shunned cruelly by her own family, she traveled to another state, and underwent two sex reassignment surgeries from Bengaluru, spending over Rs 3 lakh. Following the surgeries, she decided to build a life of dignity by pursuing a decent job. She approached several institutions, including hospitals and textile stores in Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Coimbatore for a job, but all to no avail. She was turned away every time, citing her gender.
She joined a coaching institute to pursue some courses, but she was constantly mocked and estranged by her classmates. She could not even find a home to live in as no one was willing to offer a rented house for her, because, even if someone agreed, the neighbors would complain she was a bad influence on children and families.
The only options she was left with, were to either beg on the streets or go into sex work, both of which she found deplorable. She could seek refuge at a shelter, but why, she argues. She’s smart and educated, why couldn’t she be employed and independent like everyone else? If society finds her unacceptable, she’ll return her life to society, she states.
Delving a little deep into the matter, I understand this isn’t an isolated case. In fact, there had been another trans woman seeking self-death for similar reasons, in April. She, a brilliant student, a post-graduate, and a popular professor, lost everything because she decided to live in a body which she identified with. If she couldn’t live in dignity, at least grant her a dignified death, she pleads.
In our country, where rapists and murderers walk free, corruption and adultery go unpunished, and power and position influence court verdicts, innocent women like these two bear the brunt of harassment and rejection from all around. Responsible citizens, educated, going about their business, harming none, but chastised for daring to live a life of their choice. And to think, these are some rare cases that got noticed, there must be just so many suicides that haven’t been reported.
There are A-list actors fearlessly playing homosexual and trans persons. There is definitely more awareness and acceptance. But is the ground reality different?
For example, why is a trans person never chosen to portray themselves in our movies? It’s always a heterosexual person who does the job, in fact glamourizing it no end. I have also observed that most of the time in mainstream cinema, the homosexual character is included to add to the mystery or some adult content.
The pain of gender reassignment surgeries, the medication, the confusion, the difficulty in going ahead with the decision, the financial factor,… in fact everything truly significant is overlooked for creating the romantic angle and the oomph quotient.
Even if I keep the media part aside, in our daily lives, how many of us teach acceptance to our children? Unintentionally perhaps, but do we not advise our children to maintain distance from ‘different’ people? We might take pride in ourselves for “being emancipated”, but tomorrow if our own kids confide about a different sexual orientation, would we give in so easily? It’s one thing to watch on tv, but wouldn’t we as parents, try getting them to change themselves?
Gender equality should be talked about more often, not only as equal opportunities for women but for all genders. Textbooks in particular should have sections devoted to transgender studies, just so everything gets normalized and young students don’t feel that they are a taboo. Sex education, which is still not a part of the curriculum in many parts of India, should be made compulsory, wherein, LGBTQIA+ identities should be freely discussed. All this might perhaps help tackle the unnecessary shame associated and create a more humane generation.
If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080-25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
SPEAK2us – Tamilnadu 9375493754
Image source: Tinnakorn Jorruang from Getty Images Free for Canva Pro
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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