For Transgender people living in a small town also yet allegedly progressive place like Shillong, using us as a discourse does little to address the persecution we are facing. We are awakening to an onslaught of violent and transphobic attacks online after the press had used the Trans community as caricatures for their political correctness establishments. We somehow knew what was coming. This left us with a long agonized sigh as we realized that people would want us to be visible but would not protect us now that we are more open to harassment and violence.
In August, 2018 Khasi Hill Autonomous District Council (KHADC) Chief Executive Member H.S Shylla has publically declared that the council will not recognize third gender in the KHAD (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (First and Second Amendment) Bills”. The Centre has recognized the third gender in 2014 and when asked about the inclusion of the gender, the CEM said, “We don’t recognize them (third gender), we only recognize male and female.”
It was on August 27 when we read the horrendous news on Shillong Times, the Khasi Hills autonomous district Chief Executive Member H.S. SHYLLA had declared on the council that he would not recognize third gender in the (Khasi Social Custom Lineage) (First and Second Amendment) Bills. He further stated that even though the Centre had recognized them in 2014 (Third gender), he will only recognize male and female. But, lets remember what the Supreme Court judgement on Transgender Rights (NALSA vs Union of India) says which clearly runs against the Council’s statement.
This regressive and transphobic statement in the news has disconcerted many of us belonging to the community because now we are in imminent danger of being harassed and precisely because we are observable, targetable and undefended. Even after, being put (of course nonconsensual) in the public eye by the media the support from organizations was not forthcoming. We are left to fend for ourselves. We have to resist the state violence encompassed by our loved ones blaming “us” for the violence we receive; our relatives would attack us with their authoritative information and unsolicited advice and our own people policing us to conformity. Thereafter, the news, the media did not care to enunciate on transgender identities and our rights or debunk the myths or report the violence that we face in this allegedly progressive space. Where can Trans people seek help from in this state of emergency? How do Trans people in the state seek help when they are only treated with hostility everywhere they go?
When I (Dona) appeared in a press conference on August 29, 2018 to speak about the statement, the video (Batesi channel) was posted on Youtube and the reporter spoke as though there is only one-way to be Trans rather than an umbrella term, so many false and inaccurate information has led to the inevitable cyber harassment and violent comments. This cyber harassment has also lead to verbal abuse on the streets where three men had cornered me and threatened also blaming me for influencing others to come out, they also said vehemently that there are no ‘transgender’ in the state.
It is indeed ironic to hear the same people who have always called us out for being different and categorizing us with all these derogatory slurs like ‘homo’, ‘tranny’, ‘bah kong’ are the same people who claim that we do not exist.
I (Janet) has also faced derogatory slurs while passing the streets and receives threats online. Some of our queer friends like Jack receive threats via anonymous phone calls. The other kind of violence that has not spoken about is the violence in silence, the violence that so many people witnessed in the comments online but no one did a thing, let alone acknowledging the violence that one has to go through to fight for the rights of the community. It should also be noted that we are not saying this is the only harassment we are receiving but the absurdity that violence is so normalized in our society. We have seen and witnessed familial violence where some people have distinguished their problems from ours. It is disheartening that our own community and people have rejected and erased us.
Today, we want to ask “Where is the solidarity from the LGBTQAID+ community and its illustrious allies? Is it getting bitter or better for the Trans people in Shillong? What is this visibility for then? Is the media instrumentalising Transgender people for the benefit of everyone else but for themselves? Where is the support from organizations that have been conspicuously known for working to empower our community?”
It is dreadful to see transgender people reduced to topics, scapegoats, controversies, and symbols. At the same time we also want to remind everyone not to mistakenly see Trans visibility outside of violence, because of misogyny and racism most Transgender people are not even able to self determine our genders without considering the state, familial and intimate violence though at any level we are not saying that only transgender people face violence. Even cis women are victim blamed for the violence that they experience, they have to think about going out at night, they also have to worry about the slut shaming and eve teasing; they also face cyber bullying and harassment. However, what we are particularly saying is that many at times people who transgress gender and considered deviant to the binary system are hardly represented in the media for the violence that they face, there is a difference on how that violence will be noted and perceived.
Indeed, there is no sense of exigency when Transgender people are attacked, these liberal establishments would also not take the responsibility for exposing us to more violence. Trans people are not just a discourse. We are people with more complex and diverse experiences. We are real people with emotions and feelings.
The article is written by Jaret Massar and Dona Marwien.