THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Talented transgender members will soon get a platform to showcase their artistic and creative skills in Kerala, as the state government is gearing up to host an exclusive festival for the marginalised group next month.
The state Social Justice Department conceptualised the unique event as part of its various initiatives to support the TG community, make them part of the mainstream society and to promote their talents.
Titled "Varnapakitt-2019", the two-day event is considered to be the first such state-sponsored art festival to be organised exclusively for transgenders in the country.
According to authorities, the state-level festival is being organised as part of the transgender policy implemented by the government for the upliftment of the community.
The venue of the festival is expected to be the state capital and the official announcement of the dates are yet to come.
As part of the art festival, the department also invited applications for cash awards from 10 transgenders who have proved their excellence in various social fields except cinema.
According to the Art Festival manual, released by the Department, any TG member aged 18 or above, who has the authentic identity card issued by the government, can take part in the festival.
Besides the performing art category including dance, music (both single and group), mono-act and mimicry, competitions will be held in story, poetry andessay writing, it said.
Transgender activist Sheethal Shyam hailed the government initiative and said it will be an exciting platform for the TGs to perform and show their talent to the world.
"It may be for the first time in the country that a state department is organising such an art festival for us.
"There are several talented persons in our community who do not get a platform to perform and show their skills to the world because of the stigma attached to the gender," Sheethal, also an actor and dancer, told PTI.
Not just in the fields of art, there are several transgenders who contribute and serve the society in different capacities but their services go unnoticed, the activist said.
"Many transgenders are unsung heroes. Their services and talents go unnoticed. People are honoured in our state for fighting floods and came out of its hardships successfully. But, our life is a fight every day. But, no one recognises it," the activist said.
A member of the state Transgender Justice Board, Sheethal also said the art festival and the TG award are considered as a recognition to those who have fought several odds to express their gender.
Sharing her sentiments, Surya, another TG member, said the art festival and the TG award would be a motivation for their community members.
"It will help remove the stigma attached to the transgender community and motivate more people to come out revealing their gender," Surya told PTI.
Competitions are planned to be held in 20 categories and those who garner maximum points will be bestowed with 'Kalaratna' award, the festival manual said.
There won't be any separate competition for transman and transwoman, it added.
Kerala is the first state to unveil a 'Policy for Transgenders', in the country.
The government has introduced several innovative schemes ranging from 'transgender helpline', TG justice board and shelter homes.
As per the census conducted in Kerala during 2015-16, there are 1,187 third genders in the southern state.