Transgender rights in Tamil Nadu

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Transgender people are called as Aravaani in Tamil and Their community is referred as Hijra in India and are often discriminated against in jobs forcing them to resort to begging and prostitution. They meet in Koovagam, a village in the Ulundurpet taluk in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May) for an annual festival which takes place for fifteen days.

Tamil Nadu has an estimated population of 30,000 transgender people.[1] It has made great strides in trying to integrate transgender people into society. This includes welfare schemes initiated by the Government and acceptance of transgender people into the mainstream media and film industry.

"Sangam literature use the word ‘Pedi’ to refer to people born with Intersex condition, it also refers to antharlinga hijras and various Hijra, The Aravan cult in Koovagam village of Tamil Nadu is a folk tradition of the transwomen, where the members enact the legend during an annual three-day festival. “This is completely different from the sakibeki cult of West Bengal, where transwomen don’t have to undergo sex change surgery or shave off their facial hair. They dress as women still retaining their masculine features and sing in praise of Lord Krishna,". “Whereas, since the Tamil society is more conservative and hetero-normative, transwomen completely change themselves as women. In the ancient times, even religion has its own way of accepting these fringe communities.” The Bachura Devi worship in Gujarat and Jogappa cult of Karanataka are the other examples.the kinds of dialects and languages spoken by these community in different parts of the country and the socio-cultural impact on the lingo. ‘Hijra Farsi’ is the transgender dialect, a mix of Urdu, Hindi and Persian spoken in the northern belt of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and ‘Kothi Baashai’ is spoken by the transgender community in Karnataka, Andhra, Orissa and parts of Tamil Nadu. “They even have sign languages and typical mannerisms to communicate. The peculiar clap is one such,”[2]

— Gopi Shankar in National Queer Conference 2013 organised by Sappho for Equality

Welfare schemes[edit]

In a pioneering effort to solve the problems faced by transgender people, the government of Tamil Nadu (a state in South India) established a transgender welfare board in April 2008. Social welfare minister will serve as the president of the board. This effort is touted to be the first in India and even in the world. The government has also started issuing separate food ration cards for transgender people.[3]

In additional effort to improve the education of transgender people, Tamil Nadu government also issued an order on May 2008 to create a third gender for admissions to government colleges.[4]

The Government has also decided to conduct a census on the transgender population in order to issue identity cards.[5]

Media[edit]

In a monumental push in breaking taboos, the Tamil cable channel STAR Vijay started a talk show hosted by a trans woman named Rose. The programme is called "Ippadikku Rose", translated into Yours Truly, Rose.[6]

Karpaga, a transgender person born in Erode, performed a lead role in the Tamil movie Paal; the first trans gender in India to achieve such a milestone.[7] Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender person born in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu performs a lead role in a new Tamil movie "Narthagi".[8]

Transgender A. Revathi played a role as Transgender Chief in the 2008 Tamil film Thenavattu.[9]

Helpline[edit]

A telephone helpline called "Manasu" ("Heart" in English) (0091-44-25990505) was set up by Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative-Voluntary Health Services (TAI-VHS) for members of the transgender community, their families and the public. It functions between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and was launched by V. K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary of Health Department of Tamil Nadu. Subburaj launched the services in March 2009 and said it will be helpful in finding employment for transgender people.[10]

Sahodari Foundation is an organization working for the transgender rights. Founded in 2007, Sahodari Foundation is a well known organization in India for its creative and alternative advocacy methods.[11]

Srishti Madurai launched India's first helpline for Genderqueer, LGBTQIA in October 2 2011 at Madurai. Later in June 2013 the helpline turned to offer service for 24 hours with a tagline "Just having someone understanding to talk to can save a life".[12]

Transgenders in Tamil Nadu politics[edit]

Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender rights activist, writer and an actor,In the 2011 assembly elections, Kalki tried in vain to get a DMK ticket.[13] Again on March 2014 Kalki announced in Puducherry that she would contest in this election from Villupuram constituency in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. She is likely to be among the very few contestants fighting in the national elections from the transgender community that faces discrimination and ridicule.[14]

Gender issue in TNPSC and UPSC[edit]

Transgender Swapna and gender activist Gopi Shankar from Srishti Madurai[15][16]staged the protest in Madurai collectorate on 7th October 2013 demanding reservation and to permit alternate genders to appear for examinations conducted by TNPSC, UPSC, SSC and Bank Exams.Swapna, incidentally, had successfully moved the Madras High Court in 2013 seeking permission to write the TNPSC Group II exam as a ‘woman’ candidate. Swapna is the first trans person to clear TNPSC Group IV exams.[17] In 2014, the Madurai Home guard recruited six transgenders, in a first-of-its-kind initiative taken by any police force across India.[18]

Third Gender Literature and Studies[edit]

"Vaadamalli" by novelist Su.Samuthiram is the first Tamil novel about Aravaani community in Tamil Nadu published in the year 1994. Later Transgender activist A. Revathi is the first Hijra to write about Transgender issues and Gender politics in Tamil, her works have been translated in more than 8 languages and acting as a primary resources on Gender Studies in Asia. Her book is part of research project for more than 100 universities. She is the author of Unarvum Uruvamum (Feelings of the Entire Body); is the first of its kind in English from a member of the hijra community.[19][20][21] She also acted and directed several stage plays on Gender and Sexuality issues in Tamil and Kannada."The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story" by Transgender A. Revathi[22] is part of the syllabus for Final Year students of The American College in Madurai. Later Naan Saravanan Alla” (2007) and Vidya's “I am Vidya” (2008) became first transwoman autobiography.[23][24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chennai: Move on toilets for transgenders sparks off debate". Express India. 23 June 2009. 
  2. ^ A. Shrikumar (2013-10-18). "No more under siege". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  3. ^ Welfare board
  4. ^ Admission to colleges, The Hindu, 5 May 2008
  5. ^ census and ID card
  6. ^ Rose in a Tamil talk show
  7. ^ Transgender to play lead in Tamil film
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ http://www.ayngaran.com/frame.php?iframepath=newsdetails.php?newsid=216
  10. ^ "Helpline for transgenders launched". The Hindu. 14 March 2009. 
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/24-hour-helpline-launched-for-LGBTs-in-Madurai/articleshow/20994000.cms?referral=PM
  13. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article452450.ece?service=print
  14. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/transgender-kalki-in-poll-race/article5840745.ece
  15. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-08/madurai/42828401_1_transgenders-gender-variants-collectorate
  16. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/Transgenders-protest-demanding-name-change-in-certificates/articleshow/34351467.cms
  17. ^ http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Transgender-Clears-TNPSC-Group-IV-Exam/2014/02/09/article2046310.ece#.Uvc-CPmSycw
  18. ^ http://www.livemint.com/Politics/xfWB334T0y7A83SvVaEIoL/The-transgender-recruits-of-the-Madurai-Home-Guard.html
  19. ^ http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/en/content/truth-about-me-0
  20. ^ http://dspace.flinders.edu.au/jspui/bitstream/2328/27270/1/Revathi_Prabhu.pdf
  21. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/books/hope-floats/article802665.ece
  22. ^ http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/en/node/120
  23. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/my-life-my-way/article3978249.ece
  24. ^ http://www.deccanherald.com/content/89595/doraiswamy-revathi-tamil-writer-activists.html