On Int’l Day Against Homo/Trans Phobia, Activist Anshul Bhatt Explains Major Difference Between Trans & Gay Rights
- IWB Post
- May 16, 2018
May 17 is observed as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBTQ+ rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. To commemorate the day, IWB has teamed up with activists and artists who are working for the welfare of the LGBTQ+ community.
We asked them to throw some light on the matters they think are the least talked about in India when it comes to empowering the Gender Minority. With their help, we’re trying to get access to the insights that only the community people have and give them the right coverage.
Scroll down and read what Activist Anshul Bhatt, a girl in her twenties who’s fighting for the rights of transgender people, has to say. During our telephonic conversation, Anshul asked us to focus on three primary issues – to legitimately understand the term Transgender, to understand the case of unity within the community, and to learn to differentiate between the rights of Transgender and Gay/Lesbian.
What does the term Transgender mean?
The last time we met Anshul for a one-on-one interaction, she explained to us the difference between a Transgender, a Transsexual, and a Crossdresser. “Transgenders are those who do not relate to the body they are assigned, and even when they want to undergo a sex change operation, they can’t really afford it. For example, if a man wants to be a woman, he’ll dress up like one, but he just can’t afford to be her. A Transsexual is a Transgender, who has undergone a sex change operation, and a Crossdresser is one who doesn’t wish to change their gender but simply chooses to dress up like the other gender,” she said.
To simplify, she clarifies that the transgender people are:
- Those who aren’t happy with the body he/she/they has/have attained biologically, or
- They’re born with both (male and female) reproductive organs, mostly half-developed, or
- They don’t believe in the socially-assigned gender (and, name) that they have been given, or
- Their personal identity and gender doesn’t correspond with their birth-sex, or
- They might have undergone the sex-change operation from a male’s body to that of a female’s, and vice versa.
According to her, one cannot support the community if the classification isn’t sorted in their head. She remembers, “A couple of years ago, the Indian government proposed the Transgender Protection Bill 2016. To our surprise, the bill stated a wrong definition of ‘transgender.’ This error happened because the panel had no transgender person, activist or medical adviser to clear the doubts. Anyway, a new bill has finally been drafted in March’18 which is now all set to pass with the necessary modification.”
How is the term clarification going to benefit the Trans community?
Once you have got an idea about the Trans lifestyle, you will no more hesitate to communicate with them. In India, we’re taught to be afraid of them. We call them by mean names and refrain ourselves from interacting with them in public. Imagine if there is no inhibition, we will be able to welcome the Trans community in our world. For example, making them a part of our workplaces and help them get employment.
Unity within the community
Anshul has worked closely with the transgender community in Rajasthan and Karnataka, and she feels that there is disharmony among the members of the Rajasthan community. She expresses, “In Karnataka, the Trans people are mostly working as sex-workers or are beggars. They earn very little and hence, whenever they’re demanding their rights, they unite and become one strong power. This happens because they are aware of each other’s pain. On the other hand, in Rajasthan, the Trans people earn their livelihood through their auspicious appearances at weddings, house-warming parties, and during child-births. The kind of money/perks they get is huge in most of these cases (from Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 1, 00,000 per event along with gold, in many cases). And hence, when they’re asked to stand for their rights, they don’t because, let’s be practical, who wants to lose on that kind of an income?”
She’s right. And that’s a major reason why many Trans people don’t take interest in education or demand medical health benefits from the govt. like the other genders.
LGBTQ+ movement should not just focus on just the Lesbian and Gay people
During our conversation, the young activist emphasized on the latest obsession of the Indian activists with the term ‘LGBTQ.’ “Why have we limited this term merely to Lesbian and Gay individuals,” questions Anshul. She adds, “If you look closely, you will notice that the gay and lesbian are not prone to harassment and vulnerability as much as their fellow Trans friends. Our law identifies them as man and woman, respectively, while Trans wasn’t even considered a gender until now. Gay and lesbian peeps have got jobs while Trans people are not even allowed to enter several organizations. Sadly, they’ve faced inequality like no other.”
She continues, “Many gay and lesbians who are actively a part of the brand-new movement belong to privileged and educated class of our society. Hence, their voice never goes unheard. On the contrary, most of the Trans people who are currently protesting for their basic rights come from a poor, uneducated, and unemployed background because they’re the least benefitted from societal and govt. reformations. Therefore, I strongly believe that they need a new movement altogether.”
Among the three topics that Anshul discussed with IWB, we find the third one most powerful. We’re sure most of us have never dissected the term ‘LGBTQ+’ the way she has to understand the political inequality hidden in it. We hope, with this exchange of dialogue, we’ll be able to break some stereotypes, get rid of the phobia, and normalize the gender-talks in India.
(pictures are Anshul’s own)