Of trans rights and talent

Reserving control of the production within the trans community will allow several talented members to showcase their work.
Of trans rights and talent

CHENNAI: Unbeknownst to many outside queer circles, November 20 is observed as International Trans Day of Remembrance. In memory of the deaths of trans people, it reminds of every suicide, assault, and murder resulting from institutionalised discrimination and structured violence. Carrying forward the essence of this day is the soon-to-be showcased play Sandakaranga, presented by Trans Rights Now Collective. The production is an effort by the trans community, from conception and direction to costume and acting.

“The aim of putting up a show like this is to bring forward inclusivity. So people who are left out at the margins of society are given a voice…We hold the International Trans Day of Remembrance in great grief every year because these deaths have not found justice till today. Sixty-nine-year-old Sangeeta, 20-year-old Yuvashri, and Pandiammal who encountered atrocities by the police; the names and numbers are endless. Trans lives don’t even find dignity in death,” TRNC founder-director Grace Banu said in a press release.

Sandakaranga is a story split into three — dealing with harassment, abuse, and assault in schools, bringing to life the voices of the lives lost, and exploring history and the rights of trans artists. “The story is all about trans rights, struggles, and achievements. Despite the many ways in which trans people pass, natural death is a low percentage. It’s often more so because of suicide, murder, (poor) medical infrastructure, and surgeries. I aim to show the successful growth of a trans life. For every life that is lost, there is societal and medical indifference, homelessness, poverty; many reasons,” says Negha, trans actress and the writer-director of the project. She also mentions that the play was originally named Sandakari but was eventually changed to accommodate gender identities.

Reserving control of the production within the trans community will allow several talented members to showcase their work. The troupe has been rehearsing for the show since last month, weaving through their distinct schedules. It is, however, rare for trans actors to be given such power. “Trans artists are not respected. Nowadays, we are visible everywhere in the media but that doesn’t mean that transphobia has ended. Sustaining (in this profession) is a struggle. I don’t even know if I would die being known as an artiste,” Negha says. A trans-exclusive cast and crew have been maintained for the endeavour. There is also some level of tokenism that is seen in the industry when it comes to trans characters or hiring trans actors, the Kerala State Transgender Actress awardee notes.

There is still much to achieve as a society in terms of trans rights and the elimination of discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. Here’s hoping the production brings about awareness of the same.
The play will be held at The Medai, Alwarpet, on November 23 from 7 pm.

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The New Indian Express