Tag Archives: hijra

P&G Transgender Advertisement Continues to Lead Debate in India

Earlier this year Proctor & Gamble released a short film sponsored by their Vicks line of products, which highlights the real-life story of Gayatri, a young Indian orphan who was adopted by Gauri Sawant, a 37-year-old Mumbai-based transgender woman and social activist. The video has gone viral, with almost 10 million views on YouTube, and is notable that no professional actors are used – both Gayatri and her mother Gauri appear as themselves in the video. Thus avoiding the nearly ubiquitous marginalization of our people via transface (artistic portrayal of transgender persons by cisgender persons).

The video tells the story of Gayatri’s life, starting with how when she was 6 years old her mother, a sex worker, died of AIDS. Gauri, her mother’s friend, decided to raise her as her own (despite the fact that she is forbidden legally from adopting the child herself). The video has spurred debate yet again regarding the rights of both transgender and third-gender, or hijra persons in the country. Statistics vary widely on the number of transgender persons in India, but it is estimated that as many as 2 million citizens are hijra, with potentially another million being transgender persons. Both communities face institutionalized class-based and caste-based discrimination in employment, housing, voting rights, and even access to basic social services.

The film composition is very well done and heartwarming, and highlights the inhumanity of denying transgender persons and their families basic human rights. It emphasizes this when Gayatri says the following:

My Civics book says that everyone is entitled to basic rights. Then why is my mom denied them? That’s why I’m not going to be a doctor, I will be a lawyer. For my mom.

The film is well worth your time to watch.

India Starts its First Ever Transgender Ad Campaign

India is home to the largest population of transgender and third-gender persons (hijra) on the planet, with estimates ranging from 1.2 million to 5 million in total. And ironically, in a nation with the largest transgender population in the world, discrimination against them is rampant. While not to the level of countries such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the hijra of India face bans on jobs, housing, health care, and even free travel. Under the ancient caste system of India the hijra they are considered to be nearly of an untouchable level, and relegated to slum communities at the edge of cities.

Ignorant Westerners come back with a rosy picture of hijra, as they often sing and perform at weddings, are present as buskers on trains and buses, hold street performances and festivals, and participate in cultural festivals. But when the music stops, they return to their slums and desperate poverty.

Over the last few years India has made some small but significant efforts to improve the lives of the hijra, most recently giving them third-gender identification cards to allow them to participate in the electoral process. Now the Indian government will be running a series of newspaper and television advertisements to highlight the problems and rights of the hijra. Documentary maker and transgender activist Priya Babu is responsible for the content of the advertisements, and has this to say about the effort.

“We decided that we must make society understand the issues of the transgender community before embarking on a framework of schemes,” Babu said.

“People need to understand that in their everyday lives they make comments and statements that, even if made in jest, could be really embarrassing for people with alternative sexualities. They have to understand that people like us are not abnormal. They can be family-oriented, religious, normal human beings who love, hate, cry and laugh like anyone else.”

Babu added: “I believe that tastefully done (ads) in the public service videos, which people will watch in their own homes with their children and parents, will help change mindsets to a degree.”

You may read more at the link below.

Transgender ad campaign.

Indian Hijra form The Seatbelt Crew

SeatbeltCrewI couldn’t resist this lighthearted news…essentially, a group of hijra (third-gender Indians, who are similar to but not exactly the same as transgender persons) has been contracted to perform a skit at traffic lights to remind drivers to buckle their seat belts. There is a short video clip which is definitely worth watching.

A Group Of Transgenders At A Traffic Signal Did Something Amazing You Must Never Forget.

Lagniappe Transgender News for March 25, 2014

This is a collection of various small news items, assembled together so I don’t end up spamming the 50+ folks who follow this news feed via e-mail.

First up, media whore Jerry Springer has somehow learned how to use Google or spoken to an actual transperson, as he is shocked, shocked to discover that “tranny” is an offensive word! While part of me can appreciate that Mr. Springer, host of such episodes as “Trannies Twerk It Out,” “Mom Don’t Ruin My Tranny Wedding,” “Tranny Take Downs,” “You Got Me a Tranny Stripper!?,” “Online Tranny Trap,” “My Girlfriend is Leaving Me for a Tranny,” and “Tranny Bomb!” would like to turn over a new leaf, the cynical part of me says “oh jeeze, next thing you know he’ll learn grass is green and the sky is blue, and then there will be no stopping him…”

Next on the menu, the blogosphere is abuzz over an important gender-related incident a tempest in a teapot where an eight year-old girl has been taken out of her Christian school for behaving and looking too much like a boy.

The family received a letter telling them that if their eight year old granddaughter didn’t follow the school’s “biblical standards,” that she’d be refused enrollment next year. She’s out and in public school now.

Sunnie Kahle has short hair and a huge heart, and as far as her grandparents are concerned, she is a completely normal little girl.

The letter goes on to say that students have been confused about whether Sunnie is a boy or girl and specifies that administrators can refuse enrollment for condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.

The letter goes on to reference specific Bible verses that affirm these beliefs.

The letter reads in part, “We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.”

Here is where I will interject some opinion and state that folks, this is a private Christian school. They have the right to discriminate in just about any way imaginable, and there’s really not much that can be done about it. At heart, this is little different than a Muslim student being asked to leave a Jewish School because…wait for it…she’s not Jewish. This is not a gender hate crime, this is business as usual for private religious schools.

Next we do have a success story, albeit an international one, so it’s not really in the news so much in America. India’s transgender community is very large and diverse, but often lives in the shadows, the slums, or must exist as hijra, who often are performers and entertainers as part of their begging for alms. This report from India says that the members of the hijra community will be allowed to register as “other” in their gender category for their voter ID. However, of the 3 million or so estimated hijra, only 28,000 have taken advantage of the scheme thus far.

Next we have what should be an inspiring story, but which I feel is marred somewhat by poor visual composition in its reporting. In this testimonial story, a California teacher talks about her return to the classroom after her legal and social gender transition. However, spattered around the article, which tells of the journey of educator Gary Sconce to his new life as Karen Adell Scot, we have photos of:

  • Karen without her wig, bald head clearly shown.
  • Karen shaving her face in the mirror, with clear beard stubble and shadow showing.
  • Karen working out with free weights and looking very masculine in pose.

Thank goodness she’s at least gendered properly throughout the article, but seriously, they were not exactly the best photographs a transwoman could have to tell her story to the cisgender masses. I feel badly for her, and even if she fully intended to focus on these visual misgenderings herself, I still feel badly for her.

Last and certainly least, those wacky legal Hamburglars, the Pacific Justice Institute, have yet again filed suit to try to revive their failed effort to put the rights of transgender schoolchildren up for a vote. No legal observers I have read on this subject appear to be concerned about the PJC’s latest effort, but I’m certain that this won’t be the last of these madcap Legal Smeagols.

Despite Gains, Pakistan’s Transgender Community Under Attack

I thought I should post another international article, just as a reminder that “even though it sucks here, it could be worse…”

The status of transgender persons in fundamentalist countries varies somewhat, typically being assigned an importance between a dog and a small pile of dirt. These women in Pakistan are truly brave transgender soldiers in our global movement, living in a country where not only could they be killed at any moment by someone who took issue with them, but their crime would most likely never be investigated. And if caught, the perpetrators would likely receive a slap on the wrist.

Never mind the fact that the police are sometimes the criminals! From the article:

Zeba, a transgender rights activist in Pakistan who was born with both male and female sex organs, was resting at home in the Imamia Colony neighborhood of Peshawar when the front door was suddenly kicked open.

Local police, together with angry residents of the area, stormed inside — smashing Zeba’s belongings and shouting threats.

Forced outside into the street on that October 20 evening, Zeba saw that the same thing was happening to scores of others from Pakistan’s transgender minority who have moved to the neighborhood during the last 25 years.

Despite Gains, Pakistan’s Transgender Community Under Attack.