Manipuri Transgenders Seek Acceptance

Despite their efforts to fit in, the transgender community still faces frequent discrimination.

Mercy, our Community Correspondent in Manipur, is particularly sensitive about gender issues and inequalities. Recently, while reading a newspaper report on abuses faced by a male-to-female transgender, she realized how tough the daily life of this community is, the recipients of contempt and stigma. So she decided to document the thoughts and experiences of three transgenders who work in a local beauty parlour, and who were all willing to share.

“They were very enthusiastic about talking to me and being on video. They feel their experience is usually silenced by mainstream media, so they were happy to be given a space to speak out,” says Mercy.

In Manipur, despite a growing social acceptance in certain segments of society, transgenders are still strongly stigmatised and suffer frequent verbal and physical violence. The transgenders Mercy met are a good example of this situation. They are all working hard as beauticians, and their services are much appreciated by their clients, who often hire them on special occasions such as weddings. But out of their work place, they are all still confronted with discrimination and abuse. They usually also have to deal with strong opposition from their families, and suffer regular police harassment. This often results in feelings of distress and alienation.

Mercy has been deeply moved by the stories she was told when making the video. She now wants to show her work to human rights and transgender activists, to start mobilizing the community to change their attitudes and behaviours towards transgenders, and treat them with respect and equality.

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