Documenting the third gender

Transgenders demanding their rights and privileges continue to be  a matter of discussion as they have not been able to reach the right platform.

Published: 05th October 2018 03:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th October 2018 03:19 AM   |  A+A-

Director K B Selvamony with Seethal Syam and the crew

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “The lives we haven’t experienced are just figments of imagination,” said K B Selvamony, director of ‘Memories of Trans’ documentary. Transgenders are often pushed to the periphery as a social outcast and many of them end up begging or thrown out to prostitution. The documentary has no narration but it includes real-life stories of transgenders from Kerala and them sharing their life experiences and also famous activists and government officials talking about transgender rights. 

Transgenders demanding their rights and privileges continue to be a matter of discussion as they have not been able to reach the right platform. “In a country where the liberation of women has been a topic of discussion for long and yet nothing has been done to resolve their issues, transgenders asking for their rights is out of the question,” shared Seethal Syam, a transgender activist.

Awareness regarding the existence of sexual gender minority should be given to the general public. “Once somebody asked me about the number of transgenders in Kerala. I was clueless.  The information I received from the medical department reported that the state consisted of zero transgender residents. Later I was shocked to know that there are more than 25,000 transgenders in the state,” said K M Muneer, former minister of Social Welfare in the documentary.

Although evaded by society they continue to fight for their rights. In the documentary, Surya, a transgender, tries to convey the struggles they go through to gain acceptance from the society. “I’m a transsexual woman and I always wanted to be known as a woman. As a result of our struggles, the next generation will not have to encounter pain and insults that we had to face,” said Surya.

According to Selvamony, the third gender has managed to carve out a space where they can stand and fight. “The decriminalisation of Section 377 in itself is a great move towards freedom. Still, they have a long way to go. I want to support and stand with them in their struggle,” he said. 

Government officials have also contributed to his documentary by stating transgender rights in India. “The Supreme Court verdict in 2014 clearly states that transgenders should be considered as the third gender along with male and female. The court has also made it evident that there should not be any discrimination against the third gender and they have equal rights,” said K K Shailaja, minister of Health and Social Justice. 

According to Selvamony, a comprehensive sex-education program should be included in the school curriculum. “It should include a session to identify and accept the third gender. Popular media could help to generate sexual and gender awareness,” he said. Memories of Trans has been screened in the eleventh International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala and it is also one among the two Malayalam short films to be offered a chance to screen in the Indian Film Festival of Bhuwaneswar 2018. Currently, Selvamony is planning to direct a short film related to the aftermath of floods in Kerala. 

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