Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the first openly transgender Indian college principal has demanded a separate Transgender Sahitya Academy’. Though the top court’s verdict has led to changes in laws and rules, society and the government continue to look down upon them, she says.
Manabi who runs India's first transgender magazine, Abomanob, said that the government has outsourced the work of promoting their welfare to the NGOs. “They only distribute condoms among us so that as sex workers, we can have safe sex,” she adds.
Manabi took part in a session ‘‘Different Strokes’ at Ravindra Convention Centre in the city on Sunday – the concluding day of four-day International Literature festival ‘Unmesha,’ organised by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
Another transgender poet, Vijayarajmallika urged the Government of India to include content on transgender persons and the LGBTQ community in the NCERT syllabus. She also underlined the need for considering the plight of the wives of gay men. The poet said that offsprings of humans should be viewed as a rainbow and not merely slotted as boys and girls.
Manabi told Free Press that the transgender persons are not interested in changing societal mindset towards them. “Once we become economically empowered, society will automatically start respecting us. When, despite all efforts, societal mindset towards women remains unchanged, how can we hope for a change in the way society looks at us,” she said.
She said that the transgender persons are demanding equal opportunities not equality. Manabi was of the view that the exclusion of transgender persons from society was, in a way, a boon for literature blooms only in exclusion, as the life of Valmiki illustrates.
Another transgender social activist and writer, A. Revathi said that the transgender persons are still struggling for self-identity, shelter and food. We are still suffering and deprived,” she said.
Why ‘Different Strokes’?
76-year-old Hoshang Merchant, modern India’s first openly gay poet and a preeminent voice of gay liberation in India who presided over the session, took objection to the title of the session. “Where is the need to give it the fancy title ‘Different Strokes’. Let us be open and frank,” he said. Gay author Vasudhendra said most of the doctors and teachers are homophobic. He said there is a need to talk about wives of gay men.