International Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Day to Mourn the Victims of, and Protest Transphobia
November 22, 2017
20 November is marked as International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day to remember, mourn, and memorialise the victims of transphobia. The day was founded to commemorate the murder of Rita Hester a transgender woman in the USA. Now Transgender Day of Remembrance is commemorated across the world, reminding us of the existence of violence against transgenders. Transgenders, non conforming to the normative gender and sexuality, are a subject of mockery, ridicule and are subjected to violence.
The transgender communities in India also commemorate the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Hijras, Kothis, Aravanis, Shivashaktis, Jogappas, etc are a few transgender communities unique to India. These communities have a ritual significance in north India and are believed to possess powers of the mother goddess. This belief, and the ritual significance attached to them, does not mean that the community enjoys a higher socio-economic and political status. These communities are subjected to the violence that is borne out of the stigma and shame associated with the non conforming gender identities.
Parents disowning transgender children, honour killings, harassment by the police, harassment in public places,etc is rampant. Starting in 2012 and culminating in April 2014, the transgender community fought a legal battle in the Supreme Court of India. The Court recognised the rights of transgender people in April 2014. In the judgement of the case, National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India, popularly known as the NALSA judgement, the apex court guaranteed fundamental rights to the transgender people. The judgement was decreed a historical judgement by many and was welcomed with great joy by the transgender and queer communities in the country.
In the judgement, the Supreme Court recommended that each state should implement policies that guarantee the welfare and protect the fundamental rights of transgender people. Following this ruling, Kerala was the first state to debate, enact, and implement such a policy, calling it ‘State Policy for Transgenders in Kerala in 2015’. The government of Karnataka, on 17 October 2017, passed a bill enacting the ‘State Policy for Transgenders in Karnataka’. Such initiatives by various state governments, and the proposals for a national level policy safeguarding the rights of transgenders, present a promising future.
The transgender community has own a legal battle. Only the effective implementation of the policies that are being designed and proposed would mark this win a success. The community continues to fight against the stigma, shame, and violence that the members of the community are subjected to. The International Transgender Day of Remembrance was commemorated across the country on 20 November 2017. The community chose this occasionn to also show their solidarity with the thousands of farmers from across the country who were protesting in Delhi.
As Vihaan Peethambar, a LGBTQIA+ activist in Kerala says, “Being trangender is not a choice, choosing to hurt someone is. Let the fight go on until there’s an end to hate.”
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