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The walls of our temples and the pages of our epics talk about the sexual fluidity which was a part of ancient India. But the times have changed. Globalized India has placed sexuality in watertight compartments therefore causing a loss in the vivid history it has. Alternative sexualities were always prevalent among us but the question is having we considered them to be a part of us. This paper looks deep into who the alternative sexualities are and the prevailing prejudices towards transgender people, Trans gender people are people with a gender identity/ expression that would be different from their assigned sex and if they desire to transform themselves from one sex to another through medical assistance, then they are called Transsexuals. Transgender is a blanket term that includes even people who need not be masculine or feminine.
There are varieties of terms used by the people of the transgender community to describe themselves such as transsexuals, transgender, gender queer etc. and it is a must that we must always use the term that the individual prefers. This research is based on the case studies of eight transgender from the Cochin region kerala and to understand their experiences. The cases comprise of details of when they realized about their identity, how they came out, their social networks and their past and current other experiences. We learn about how socialization plays a huge role in our lives and how our experiences are based on the life world that we are from. Here the research tries to understand the difference in life world of each samples and how it has shaped their experiences. The transgender community in Kerala especially do not follow any particular community such as Hijra, Sivasakthi and most of the times the community tend to move out of the state to join such communities or find their own living. It is interesting to know how a community as such tries to survive in a society which do not have a great visibility of the transgender community. Kerala, until recent years have not had many transgender community or they were not noticed as widely as before because most of them as they are ostracized from their family, they look for some sort of survival and thus end up at places like Bombay, Bangalore etc which is considered to be the hub for transgender community. The various systems such as Hijra, Shivashakthi, Joggama etc. provides shelter and assistance to these new members. Until recently the LGBTQ rights in Kerala has been very bright and thus we see a lot of the community members coming out of their shells and we also experience their presence in many sectors majorly such as fashion, makeup, cultural forms and even in bureaucracy.
The focus of my study is to understand about the process of transgender gendering and the life experiences among the transgender groups of Kerala. Kerala as a state has come up with effective ways to inculcate the transgender community into the society. The opening up of Sahaj international school for transgender in Kochi, Metro rail project, etc are some of the highlights so far. Cities like Kochi. Trivandrum,Kochi Calicut have many organizations that work for the welfare and development of the communities and also, they are very vibrant as well. Metro rail project by the government, was a way to inculcate and give job opportunities to the transgender community. The role of metro station operators, ticket counter etc was given to transgender community. However, the project was not as successful as thought so. The project team failed to understand how difficult it is for the community to survive without a roof over their head. With the salary they receive, it was near to impossible to survive as well. Thus, a large number of the community had to leave the job and head back to begging and prostitution. The community usually lives in a chela- amma relationship household and they also have certain obligations towards their community whom they call family now, when they live with them. According to the community, they are not able to live away as many people are not ready to give them apartments or rooms for rent due to the prejudice that exists against them and when they live with their community, they are bound to look after them as well.
At the end the money is nowhere enough for survival. However, with further search, I was able to find some transgender who still work at the station and through her I was able to reach few others as well. Another incident which happened in Kochi was a shock and disappointment to the community. A group of transgenders attacked an Uber driver and tried to loot him. However, they were caught by the police. Incidents like this again is what keeps questioning the community by the general society. Various such incidents and majorly some being emerging during the coming year’s shows that the transgender community are being more visible now days. Coming up of various organizations for the welfare of the community and also various projects by the government have also showed certain impact on the growing of the community. However in the research we can identify how most of the samples are trying to live a double life as of a transgender and as of a person with the assigned sex. Even more interesting to know that most of them are active volunteers of the organizations working for the transgender community but struggling to make their family and society understand about the identity thus forcing them to lead a life like this. Here as well as we go through each case we will be able to identify how each cases experience is different based on their caste, class, religion, status etc. Also, to notice how there exist a divide among the community as well based on their own statuses and class they have adopted mostly based on the vices and character they have.
The transgender community always existed in our society and have also been part of our religious texts. We always knew about the community yet we always kept them away from the society. The community was always exempted from the rest of the society and even now when we see the pattern changing a bit but the divide among the community itself makes it harder for them to be accepted into the society.Transgenders play a huge role in India as most of the mythological texts in India speaks about the transgender. Various episodes of Rama and Arjuna specifies on the transgender community. Thus, we see how they are worshiped mainly in the Northern parts of India and some parts in the South but not in Kerala. Even though these texts are being followed in Kerala as well, it is not evidently worshiped as it is in India. We see thus how even though the community is abused and mocked, they are also considered to be a good luck and an omen at certain aspects. In many temples in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, they also worship “Aravan” where men come in disguise of a woman and makes offerings. Here even transgender community also takes part in the process.
Transgenderis an individual who is neither a male nor a female and they are also who takes the role of the opposite gender role. The transgender people are those which are born as a particular gender but do not associate towards that gender but to the opposite gender. They are usually recognized based on the characteristics such as male being feminine and female being masculine(S, 2017). The WHO defines transgender as an umbrella term who possess a gender identity which do not confirm to the accepted norms and expected traditions of the society.
“Socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security, and subjective perceptions of social status and social class. Socioeconomic status can encompass quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges afforded to people within society”(American psychological association). The study strives to understand how socio-economic status of a transgender individual influences their experience during the process of trans-gendering; and in this study, the socio-economic status of an individual is based on the educational qualification of the individual, social status of the family, parents job etc., but excluding the job of the transgender. The transgender community in Kerala have received a much positive feedback from Kerala as compared to the other states and the legislative elections of 2016 showing more transgender voters using their ID cards and casting votes is itself one stepping stone ahead to recognition of the community and in fact Kerala is the first state to publish the policy for transgenders.
The transgender community in Kerala unlike the other transgender community in India is much more invisible mainly because of the general perception that transgender community are sex workers and beggars and thus the family either ostracizes them from the family, or they do not open up to the family about their identity and is forced to marry but also leads an extra marital affair based on their orientation etc. Thus, in this study also we see cases who refuses to do begging and most who is against prostitution for the money. We can also see how most of the cases are leading a double life of being both as a man and woman and not relieving their identity in fear of being abandoned. Most of them have said how they do not wish to leave Kerala and thus they fear that if they tell about themselves the family will leave them and thus they would be forced to move out of state as communities are more outside Kerala. There, they would be forced to be part of such anti -social activities for livelihood.
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