CHENNAI: Why do the transgendered people face issues of social segregation even today? Do they have access to healthcare services, education and other livelihood prospects like the ‘normal’ folks? Why are there restrictions in providing this community full citizenship rights even in the 21st century? These were the questions that found prominence at the launch of Chennai International Queer Film Festival 2014 titled Reel Desires, at Goethe Institut on Thursday.
The launch witnessed a photography exhibition by Shilpa Raj, a Bengaluru-based photographer and social activist, who was here to show her support for the LGBT community. The exhibition showcased pictures divulging tales from Indian mythology that spoke about the existence of people from LGBT community from the time humans came into existence. Shilpa, says that these stories need to be brought out to the public. “The origin of transgendered and intersex people can be traced back to Ramayana and Mahabharata,” she says. Her photo project ‘The Sacred third - TransForm’ (third referring to the third gender) talks about the same. She says that there is widespread ignorance among the masses regarding the LGBT community. “There were days when transgenders were respected for their sexuality, but now they are looked down and mocked upon,” she says.
The frames show transgendered people posing in diverse avatars, charting the transition from male to female in 14 stills. Then there are photos that establish references to Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
The movie screening which followed was attended by activists, volunteers from NGO Orinam and a few members from Chennai Dost, an LGBT community. A few movies screened included Kyunki (Indian), Eyes that do not see (USA), Kumu Hina (Hawaiian) and Not funny (German).