“Hi does Sahil live here?” asked the stranger who had knocked on the door unceremoniously.
She tried closing the door after answering in the negative, but the persistent stalker refused to budge.
“Please talk to me, I need to ask questions about you!” and she slammed the door on his face with a disgusted look.
Harassments such as these are commonplace for women, but perverts take it to a whole new level when it is a trans*woman. And it does not help that the common notion of the more visible transgender community is damaging.
We have all been brought up to think that transgenders are brash people who go around begging, abusing and bedding people for money. What’s appalling though is that it’s the very society that disses them that puts them in the situation they are in. And people while quoting karma to justify the happenings of the world, fail to grasp the irony of this vicious cycle.
Transphobia is rampant in our society. Very much so. It has curbed the lives of millions of transgenders out there who have been forced to live a lie for the fear of being branded an outsider inside their own homes. When I first realized that I am different, I could not place my fingers at what it was. Being a pre op trans*woman, I could not understand why I was feeling like I was in the wrong side of the spectrum. I’d see people from the third gender communities, going about trying to eke out a living, and I would think to myself that I am not at all like the way they are portrayed. Despite having found out who and what I was by the age of 14, it took six more years for me to accept who I am.
Those six years could have been much different, if only society was not transphobic. I have been coming out to all my friends for the last 3 years and every single one of them has been accepting. Which makes me wonder, what exactly is it about the society that makes people transphobic by default?
We have been brought up to picture transgenders to be a certain way. This stereotyping has affected the LGBT community. It has led us to be implicitly transphobic. The ignorance born out of this does not allow people to interact with transgenders without prejudice. The phobia is implicit. The mis-gendering, denial of rights, usage of deadnames, catcalling, etc, all bud from this and burst out explicitly. Such stereotyping makes people dismiss the idea of gender non-binary, fluidity and even crossdressing. It creates in us a fear of rejection, kills our self-confidence and prevents us from coming out and being open about ourselves.
This brings us to one of those crucial factors that decide how far a person is willing to come out of the closet; Familial acceptance. Lucky are those whose parents are either educated or cannot see their kids in pain. The majority however still have to go through a lot of struggle to just live as themselves. And this is where we still have a lot of work to do.
People are willing to accept once they are aware of the issue. But to spread awareness one must first be able to openly talk about it, without getting ridiculed. A week after the supreme court verdict that recriminalized homosexual intercourse, my then roommates were having an animated discussion about how the court did justice to the culture of our country by passing that judgement. I could not restrain myself and ended up speaking about the issue at length. A five minute monologue later, I had 4 lost faces nodding slowly in agreement with my arguments. I like to think that it can be emulated worldwide if only there were enough of us willing to speak up for ourselves.
Five months after that infamous ruling, the Supreme Court passed the NALSA Judgement. It paved the way for a third gender to be legally recognized that included everybody who did not identify with the gender binary. In the last couple of years we have seen transgenders gaining acceptance in different spheres of society and hopefully in the long run the phobia against gender and sexual identities would merely be discussed in history books as the barbaric act that it is.
One thing though is that there would be some people who cannot or will not make an effort to understand and move past their phobia. There would be those who go out of their way to bully us for speaking up. And others who would simply call us lunatics and dismiss scientific fact for their religious beliefs. But with perseverance, perhaps we could have our kids live in a society that does not care about a person’s gender or sexual preferences.