Why I identify myself as a girl and you identify yourself as a boy has nothing to do with your sex at the time of birth. Why you identify yourself as belonging to a masculine gender is because of the ‘role identity’ assigned to you through socialization. Society has been shaping our lives since men begin to get organized into groups and those groups expanded splitting into varied identities. Gradual change is the only possible solution to enriching and everlasting society. Our acceptance and encouragement to positive changes will only make us a better member of this society.
Humsafar Trust, an organization working for the LGBTQ community since 1994 had published a study on the situation of transgender persons in three big cities. The study, titled, “Situation and Needs Assessment of Transgender People in Three Major Cities in India” manifestly found and cited that around 59 percent of their population in Delhi, 55 percent in Mumbai, and 70 in Bangalore have experienced violation. Surprisingly, a considerable amount of the perpetrators of violence against them were constituted of their family members.
The ‘Hizra’ community comprises of India’s transgender minority has been living in poverty and facing social boycott for long. The primary reason for their social boycott stems invariably from the foremost institution of society i.e. the Family. Out of all the places in the world, you always choose to belong to your family, the place where you live with your family, and nowhere else. Why? For the simple reason that it is your family which identifies you as who you are and helps in bringing you up to become capable enough to identify yourself as whosoever, you want to be. The majority of transgender persons faced discrimination and exploitation right from their childhood when they were supposed to learn and grow in parity with other children. What comes next is hatred and a social boycott by the members of the community transgenders live in and conversely, compassion, and acceptance by the community they identify themselves with.
The apex court of India too has in the recent judgment of NLSA v. UOI recognized transgender as the third gender and socially and economically backward classes, thus eligible for reservations or quotas in education and job in par with other minorities. Again, the recent legislation of Parliament Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act ensures the welfare of transgenders and protects their rights. Despite having judicial decisions and welfare legislations, they are not able to enjoy the fruits of their entitled rights, which the Indian Constitution grants to all the citizens of this country.
What we as individuals of progressing society believe in is acknowledging them as a part of our society. We identify them but do not accept their identities. We may be compassionate about and take pride in giving them a ‘space’ to live in and express, but should we not question ourselves when we think that it is ‘us’ giving them what they invariably are entitled to right from their birth as a human being? Who are we to badge them as who they are, why can’t they enjoy this freedom of identifying themselves as whoever they want to be? Who are ‘they’? ‘They’ are human beings who are equally entitled to all the rights and privileges that the society which has shaped us, has to offer. Any person living in society has the absolute right to identify himself as he wants to. Let us not be a part of a community that discourages differences and encourages prejudice. Let us not act as impediments in the manner of a person’s right to identify himself.
After all, why should anyone else tell you how you want to identify with yourself?