To shake off the shackles of their gender-driven and stigmatised lowly bondage, and demand their rightful place in the society

If Simone de Beauvoir, French writer, feminist, and author of the hugely popular Le Deuxieme Sexe (Second Sex in English), which kicked off the second wave of feminism, were alive today, she perhaps would have been compelled to write something titled Le Troisieme Sexe or Third Sex highlighting of the plight of trans-genders (TG).

Though most wouldn’t have heard of Ms. de Beauvoir, separted by time – by decades – but when their plea for justice had no takers in the corridors of power and their appeal for fair treatment evoked little response from the society, the transgender community decided to ‘speak up’, and how.

Pen and mike-driven

In a bid to shake off the social stigma, transgenders, with a penchant for writing came forward to wield the pen and microphone and question the social maladies. ‘Third Gender Now’, (with an uncanny semblance to Ms. de Beauvoir’s work), a skill development training in media and entertainment was organised for TGs. Sayodhya, in association with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and SEEDAP, has provided the TGs a platform to think beyond their possibilities. Many of the participants want to become news readers, anchors, or radio jockeys, owing to the larger spotlight in the visual media.

In a free-wheeling chat with The Hindu on the sidelines of the workshop, the journalists in-the-making made interesting observations on their social status. Sidelined and publicly heckled, the community is relegated to either seeking alms, sex work, or dancing, to make ends meet. “The government asks us not to beg or do sex work, but what is our source of livelihood?”, asked Hasini, head of Sneha Sangam, a Community Based Organisation (CBO), fighting for the community’s rights in Rayalaseema. RJ aspirant Divya wondered why they are looked down upon, in spite of their talent at par with men and women.

All for a decent life

“Our people stopped sex work on getting ₹ 3,000 state support. We vow to stop begging too if we get a decent source of income,” swore TG activist Ganga Bhavani. In fact, she had knocked on the judiciary’s doors several times, seeking directives to the government on implementing its verdict. Ajay from Bhimavaram (West Godavari), a Microbiology graduate with a D.Ed to become a teacher, now fine-tuned his ambition to become a scribe specialising in education. “There are lessons on animals at the school level, but not on us. This is why a child is rattled at the first sight of a TG,” he reasoned. Pravalika, though scored 62 per cent in the recent VRO entrance test, could not get a job as there was no ‘TG’ option under the sex column. Ankitha, Geography post graduate, hopes against hope to land a job.

Looking beyond their own unsettling issues, they decided to get equipped with writing and presentation skills to fight for preserving their rights.

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