My eyes are welling up but I’m trying to control myself. The temperature in the conference room is 30 degrees, but the summers in Gurgaon are unforgiving. The suit I’m wearing isn’t helping with my physical discomfort. But more than that, I stare in awe at the tall, striking speaker on the stage.
The Story Of A Thousand Struggles
She continues to tell the story of what it’s like being a trans person in India. She was assigned ‘male’ at birth but knew all along that she was a woman.
“I’ve been laughed out of meeting rooms, called a chakka, and many other expletives”
(Chakka is a derogatory term used to refer to trans persons in India)
“You’ve probably never worried about which restroom to use. But for people like me, for whom there’s no place in the society, even thinking of using the restroom is an exercise in humiliation and fear”.
“I’m standing on this stage because of my privilege but so many others like me still aren’t afforded the most basic of human dignities”
This is the painful reality of being a trans person in our country.
The entire existence of 490,000+ people in India is one of stigma, subjugation and exploitation.
And it all hinges on the idea that genders can only be binary – either male or female. That’s how we are taught in schools and that’s what we grow up believing.
We live in a society that would rather deny the humanity of living, breathing human beings than expand the narrow definition of gender.
Trans people weren’t even allowed in the Indian Central Police forces until a few days ago. And the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, was enacted only, in December last year!
There’s a lot to be done to make the world safer for trans, gender nonconforming and non-binary people.
But the one thing you and I can start doing right this minute is to become aware of misgendering and always use a person’s preferred pronouns.
‘Misgendering’ is incorrectly referring to a person’s gender by incorrectly assuming their gender identity or using incorrect pronouns.
Using ‘she’ to refer to a trans/ gender fluid person who identifies as male is misgendering. Doing this deliberately indicates a severe lack of respect for the person being misgendered. And yet, this disrespect is the waking reality for most non-binary people – partly because no one talks about this and partly because no one cares enough.
No one deserves to have their identity degraded on a constant basis. Certainly not through something as insensitive as misgendering.
One way to combat misgendering is to indicate your preferred pronouns and ask for others’ preferred pronouns.
You might have seen people indicating their preferred pronouns on their social media profiles, something like this:
Twinkle V (She/Her/Hers)
Alexis P (They/Them/Theirs)
Gary H (He/Him/His)
Simply revealing your pronouns like this greatly helps those forced to fit into a non-binary gender definition.
Suddenly, there is no longer a need for them to suffer the tiny little paper cuts of being referred to by an incorrect pronoun. There’s no constant reminder of the indignities they have to suffer because of their gender-fluidity.
Everyone is equal.
There’s no discomfort, there’s no inadvertent harm or disrespect.
Using the preferred gender pronouns while referring to someone is one small step, but it may just mend some of the injustices that trans people have had to suffer.
Until we make room within our culture for more inclusivity, we can use the existing pronouns respectfully.
After all, as Andrei Pejic says, “All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic right.”
And if clarifying my pronouns helps reinforce this basic right, it’s all the more reason to do it.
Source : Blogger’s experience and research
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