KOCHI: Despite technological and socio-economic advances, the queer community continues to be let down by the society. Recently, Sajana Saji, a transwoman, was harassed for trying to earn a living. TNIE looks at the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community in the state
Even as Kerala spearheaded various initiatives to support the LGBTQ community, especially transgenders, a recent incident put all to shame. Sajana Saji, a transwoman, was verbally abused and assaulted for wayside food vending. While the state hired transgender persons to work for the Kochi Metro, held beauty pageants and introduced pension schemes, societal mindset continues to be counterproductive. From shunning and discriminating them to forcefully admitting them to conversion therapy, the prism through which the LGBTQ community is viewed continues to be tainted.
“Oddly, several people continue to assume that transwomen are men wearing women’s clothes. Even though 90 per cent of the population has accepted us for what we are, the other 10 per cent will ensure that we’re heckled.
They conclude that our orientation solely depends on our state of mind and attribute it to our hormones,” said Sajana. Nonetheless, while several came to zer rescue, zie highlighted that the police rubbished zer claims initially.
Transwoman makeup artist Renju Renjimar interjected that while the police ought to be most aware of the communities, they refuse to acknowledge complaints. “A change in mindset reflects through such situations(Sajana’s).
We’re written away as beggars, sex workers and asked to either kill ourselves or find a respectable job. And when we do the latter, society is unable to welcome or admit us as their own. Even though many people are abused, transpersons are always at a higher risk,” zie said.
Inclusive of the police, doctors also play a humungous role when it comes to accepting the community, zie stressed. “I have come across several transpersons who’ve been accused of a different mental state and forcefully subjected to conversion therapy, especially transmen.
Despite research and gender awareness, a few doctors continue to believe that hormonal imbalances are the root cause of these,” zie added. Even if parents decide to be supportive, they’re concerned of a society that is waiting to point fingers, said Dhanya Ravindran, who identifies as a lesbian and is a member of Queerala, a community organisation which advocates the rights of LGBTQ community.
As a result, those in the community continue to remain in the closet or are begrudgingly taken to conversion therapy centres. Raghav P R, member of MATA, an association of transmen helping members of the community belonging to the state, had to unwillingly meet two doctors before he met the right one.
“After being let down by the first psychiatrist I met, I conveyed my apprehensions and feelings to another psychiatrist who gained my trust and then ended up convincing my parents that I had to be treated. He made it sound like a mental issue,” zie said.“Initially I thought I was alone in this but after becoming the board member of the community, I realised that many of us were in the same boat,” Raghav added.