#CelebrateingtheRainbow at the workplace – share your stories of Pride!

Celina Jaitly Trolled For Trans Rights Tweet: Do You Want To Hear They’re Better Than ‘Real Women’?

Trans people continue to be regarded with suspicion or as ‘abnormal’ and continue to be kept out of the mainstream of society, often shunned by their own families and find it difficult or even impossible to get an education and a job.

Actor and former Miss India and Celina Jaitly has long been a champion of various LGBTQ issues. Her tweet on the occasion of International Transgender Day of Visibility sought to draw attention to the transgender community; still very much the target of discrimination and violence in our society.

The tweeple responded to her tweet in various ways: some in gratitude and admiration, others with dismissive mockery and outright hostility. The hostility and mockery shouldn’t surprise us. Transgender people are still among the most marginalised groups; and are viewed with suspicion, fear and frequently subjected to violence.

“Some of the world’s bravest people are transgender people”

Jaitly has spoken in support of LGBTQIA+ communities and has shared some very personal stories about why she feels strongly about this. She has earlier said that her first boyfriend was gay and passed away from a bulimia induced stroke, and her first makeup artiste was transgender.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Many Twitter responses lauded Jaitly’s efforts towards inclusion and expressed their own support for the causes she espouses.

Others, not so much

“They’re better women than real women. Is that what you want to hear?” said one irritated sounding response.

Yet another tweet spoke angrily about how trans people ‘misbehave in public’ under the ‘pretext of begging.’ The tweet also attacked Jaitly directly for her ‘poor upbringing’ (strange how the bigoted always seem to resort to ad hominem attacks.)

In response Jaitly pointed out that these are the very attitudes that are responsible for the hate and bigotry that we see against the trans community.

This is true. People are still very ignorant not just about the trans community. For one, people tend to think of the trans community as a monolith, whereas it isn’t.

The definition of a trans person is someone who identifies as a gender other than the one they are assigned at birth, and those who come out as trans may undergo gender affirming surgery. Some of those we think of as trans people are intersex (born without certain defining sex characteristics); others may be eunuchs (castrated males). Most often, these individuals are ostracised by family and society and tend to band together in supportive communities.

A lot of people simply fail to see how these communities are marginalised and dehumanised; how they are robbed of agency and the kind of opportunities others take for granted. Trans people have little to no political representation and are routinely excluded, stereotyped and sneered at.

Transphobia is alive and well

Another response was mocking and seemed to think that the fate of the marginalised trans community in India was amusing.

This dismissive attitude shouldn’t surprise us either. Many trans people are forced into sex work and many can be seen asking for money at traffic intersections. Seeing a kinnar at a traffic intersection if often the only interaction some people with a trans person; hence the ignorance; hence the mockery

Communities of ‘hijras’ have been around for millennia – society has seen them as people skilled in song and dance, auspicious people invited to bless celebrations. They are a sub group of the trans community; who now call themselves ‘kinnar’ or ‘hijra’.

Thought the term hijra is one that kinnars have proudly reclaimed, many dehumanising slurs are still very much a part of common parlance. Trans people continue to be regarded with suspicion or as ‘abnormal’ and continue to be kept out of the mainstream of society. They are often shunned by their own families and find it difficult or even impossible to get an education and a job. They are seen as oddities to be feared and kept away from.

The object of ridicule

Image source

Amar Akbar Anthony may be a fave film of mine for a lot of reasons, but its tone deaf representation of trans people cannot be ignored. And this is far from the worst of the portrayals of trans people in Hindi films. They are typically either the object of ridicule put there for comic relief, or portrayed as the vile villain meant to horrify and repulse the viewer. Think about Akshay Kumar’s character in Laxmii or Ashutosh Rana in Sangharsh, or the killer in Murder 2, or more recently, as the antagonist to the central character in Gangubai Kathiawadi.

Traditionally, the trans character has been used in Hindi films as a device to induce laughter using lame, sophomoric and largely unintelligent humour. Numerous Hindi films have had a trans character shown to be effete, silly, loud, overly emotional or lusting after some other character. They are shown as caricatures in outlandish outfits and garish makeup rather than regular people with the same concerns and aspirations as the rest of us. These characters perpetuate and cement the negative attitudes that are prevalent.

Then again, films are a reflection of society as it exists. Most of us are quite simply ignorant about the trans community as a whole, and of the groups that constitute it. Many of us are unreasonably fearful of them because they are ‘different’; they are the ‘other’.

Many trans people live in secrecy and fear. Some are so marginalised that most of us haven’t ever had a real conversation with them. They don’t live among us. They don’t study where our children do and they don’t work in our workplaces. They are simply not permitted to inhabit the same spaces that we do and are marginalised in more ways that we care to admit. Even the well-meaning among us tend to be apathetic and not overly concerned about their fate.

When someone like Celina Jaitly uses their influence and celebrity to dispel some of the ignorance and distaste for the trans community, this is to be applauded. And then when she spiritedly claps back against the bigoted trolls, one can only say, bravo!

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads - you can also start sharing your own ideas and experiences with thousands of other women here!


About the Author

Reena Daruwalla

A former lawyer, now freelance writer, fauji wife, mother, singer, knitter and lover of my own cooking, I have altogether too many opinions and too few convictions. The more I learn the more I am read more...

36 Posts | 12,749 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Supercharge your startup with Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders in India Program

All Categories