It was heartening to see the spotlight on the transgender community at a recent fair held in Borivli. Called the ‘Trans Empowerment Mela — Anandi Anand Gade’, it comprised 25 stalls put up by more than 300 transgender people from across the country. From 4.30 pm to 10 pm, the VK Krishna Menon Academy Ground saw them selling a number of products like saris and materials, as well as showcasing their culinary talent with various food stalls.
It was encouraging to see the community find an avenue to showcasing their talents, and even more heartening that there were a considerable number of people who came to the fair to browse and buy. The transgender ‘label’ did not put them off. There were families, young women buying beauty products, and professionals, all of who treated this mela like any other. A man who had brought his family was happy that his children could see transgenders in new light, different from the stereotype that persists in society’s perception.
The only way to shatter such stereotypes is by bringing the community into the mainstream. The more people interact with them, the greater the chances are of minds and hearts opening to them. Every little step will make it easier for them on the much longer journey to finding complete acceptance. Of late, we have seen some acknowledgement of this community — the government and certain institutions have also included a third gender option in official forms. But acknowledgement is one thing and acceptance quite another. Only when they are given a chance to live a life of dignity will the stereotypes be truly shattered. For this, they must get the same opportunities as anyone else.
The community too must make the most of these opportunities. They must conduct themselves with dignity and grace. Those fortunate enough to find work or financial independence, can surely try and help others in the community. Our movies and TV shows must change their often mocking and derogatory portrayal of transgenders.
The path to inclusiveness takes several forms, but economic independence and dignity are powerful ways to achieve that.