Beware Of The Labels



Kochi Metro recently appointed 23 transgenders within its workforce, which was widely hailed as a ground-breaking move.  We wrote about it too. Unfortunately, the cracks and fissures in the viability of such a decision are showing through within a very few days.

The employees are finding a problem in procuring accommodation near their work-place. As many as 11 of them have stopped coming to work. The ones who continue live in lodges and pay un-affordable sums of money for it. They allege that most people believe that they are seeking a place for prostitution. They are blamed for any irregularities at the work place. While they acknowledge the efforts of the Kerala government and the Kochi Metro for their assistance, they assert that the attitude of the people needs to change for these steps to provide them the relief that they were calculated to produce.

I invite you to inhabit their mental universe for a while. There is almost no certainty in their lives, except for the assurance of being cruelly handled by strangers routinely. There is no possibility of a mainstream job even, which forces large numbers of them into activities like begging and prostitution. They are ridiculed by people in public places. They are regularly faced with threats of rape, murder, and other unspeakable and atrocious acts. Many do not feel safe even in their own homes. The gender that they identify with is different from their sex, and this is deemed unnatural by their fellow citizens.

It is recognized that gender is a huge part of an individual’s identity. Imagine being questioned about such a fundamental thing about your identity constantly. Imagine being nothing more than a controversial gender identity to most people. Imagine knowing that society recognizes only two genders, and that everyone around you has inviolable faith in this hypothesis. Imagine knowing that no one shall ever question the status quo for a long time yet, nobody has ever been taught that. Imagine the despair on the discovery that you cannot furnish an irrefutable proof of the truth of your identity to others- because human beings cannot enter into each other’s bodies to be certain of it- and everyone refuses to enter your mind too.

Nobody can force acceptance in anyone. But is too much to expect humanity? Why do people forget that even if they don’t agree with certain things about them, transgenders are humans too? Why are they to face this inhumane malice which, frankly, is unjustified? How is it that a stranger is able to hurt with so much complacency? It might be our obsession with labelling people. We are content with classifying people with a handful of broad words that signify nothing when we look close enough. But these words reduce humans to mere objects in our minds, and our conscience does not protest when we commit acts of violence against them- because we have successfully eradicated the fact of their humanity from our minds. Labels were supposed to help in classification, not annihilation.

By Halak Pandya.


Halak is an undergraduate student pursuing literature. She aspires to be a writer. Halak also holds a Master Diploma in Bharatnatyam and a Black belt in Taekwondo. She describes herself as a luftmensch.

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