Trans-men are reticent, a hardly visible group among the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Most people do not really know who they are. On the sidelines of the 5th Bangalore Queer Film Festival, this often misunderstood group of people shared details of their struggle to live as they are.
“The term ‘transgender’ in common parlance is used by most only to refer to trans-women (men to women). There is hardly any public understanding or any knowledge about who these trans-men are” said Gee Ameena Suleiman, a film-maker and a researcher whose docu-fiction Kalvattukal, protraying their lives, was screened in the fest last year.
Gee also said, “As trans-men, apart from our personal battles in the society, we face a double oppression - firstly being born as a women to find our economic and social independence in the society shaped by patriarchy and secondly as trans-men.”
Unlike the trans-women, most of the trans-men, with very few exceptions, are still not ready to disclose their real identities to the world.
Most of them leave their native places to find their lives in cosmopolitan cities to escape from the public scrutiny or gender policing so they can continue to live their lives as they are.
Sunil(29), a cricket player and now a researcher, left his home town in Kerala eight years ago to find life in Bangalore as a trans-man said, “The way society is structured, born as a women, there is so much pressure to conform. I wanted to play cricket. But after a point, my family didn’t want me to do it. From class 3 onwards I knew I was different from the rest of the girls of my age.”
Unlike trans-women, the problems of trans-men are even more complex, when it comes to a sex reassignment surgeries.
Sunil today is a part of network called Lesbit, which is for the lesbian, female-men(trans-men) and bisexual women said, “Life for us is not easy. And for those who want to attain the imagery of man they carry in their heads, sex reassignment surgery is a very expensive affair.”
“To remove one’s breast can cost close to a lakh and then other surgeries to remove other female parts like uterus and the final sex reassignment surgery is way beyond our means.”
Bangalore has close to hundred trans-men, they still live in the closet.