On this very day in 2014, the Supreme Court gave the transgender community the status of the ‘third gender’ in India. After years of excluding a whole community, we finally took a step in the direction of inclusion.
Fast forward to today, and the new Vicks advert has only strengthened the movement. The transgender woman in the ad becoming a mother to a young girl through adoption warmed our hearts.
Even though the ad got everyone talking, we are still a long way to go when it comes to the way society treats transgenders.
ScoopWhoop recently had a chat with Sowmya, a transgender person, who has worked extremely closely with the community, on everything from HIV awareness to general development. She presents a slightly different picture of what it has been like since the judgement came out.
The first count of the third gender in census took place in 2014 and yet, people from the community find it extremely difficult to find a place for themselves in the society, she tells us.
So, how many transgender people work in mainstream jobs?
“In my career of 17 years, I have barely met someone who gets hired. It’s because there are certain stereotypes that the status of being the third gender can’t fade away. People assume that the community is loud, aggressive and always ready to pick fights. Moreover, giving us the legal status of the third gender hasn’t lead to our assimilation in the society. People still look at a transgender person wide-eyed and never fail to make them feel ‘different’,” she tells ScoopWhoop.
So, can people from the transgender community make a life out of social activism as part of different organisations?
“Hum try karte hain par hum kitne logo ko rozgaar de sakte hain?”
Given that according to the census there are 4.9 lakh people constituting the community, she isn’t entirely wrong.
Referring to the tradition of calling people from the transgender community when a child is born, Sowmya says:
“Log humse dua chahte hain par humein apnaana nahi chahte.”
People from the transgender community have had to do this work because the society wouldn’t let them do anything else, Sowmya shares, adding, “If they apply, they’re given different excuses for having been rejected but the heartbreak is right there because we know it’s because of the stereotypes that are culturally ingrained in the society.”
In addition, Sowmya told us about how many people from the transgender community are pushed to take up prostitution because they need to survive. But entering the sex trade has it’s own issues as can be seen with the high number of cases of AIDS within this community.
“The transgender community has lost out on so many lively souls due to HIV AIDS. Awareness has only started rising but there is a long way to go,” Sowmya tells us.
She feels that there is a metaphoric wall that separates the transgender community from the rest of the society.
“There needs to be an effort from both the sides. The transgender community has gone into a shell because of the treatment they have received since centuries. They need to get out of the shell and the society needs to give them a hand to do so,” she shares.
When we asked her take on the Vicks ad, she gave us a pleasant surprise with her comment. She said:
“This must be new for you but community ke log kaafi time chhote bachon ko adopt kar lete hain. There may be no legal backing to it but they try their best to provide the child with the best resources. Aur jab shaadi karvate hain na apne bachon ki, toh bohot dhoom-dham se karvate hain.”