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#India – Open Letter by trans masculine people

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Dear members of the expert committee on transgender issues set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,

 
 
We would like to first of all thank the MSJE for taking up the issue of

trans people in the country. We would also like to appreciate the steps

taken by the ministry to address the concerns of our trans

communities. As you all know, in India, because of the large numbers

of our trans sisters and the remarkable way in which they have come

together and organised politically and supported each other, everyone

thinks trans people means only hijras. But trans men also exist. This is

a fact that the government also overlooks when making policies and

programmes for trans people. A case in point being the Aravani

Welfare Board in Tamil Nadu which provides services to only aravanis

and not trans men.

 

If trans people are a minority with almost no rights in this country, trans

men are a minority within that minority. It is hence, we feel, important to

give special considerations and additional support to a minority group.

Because we were mistakenly identified as women by parents, doctors,

the state and society at large, it has been very difficult for us to come

out of our homes. For years we were guarded behind closed doors, not

allowed to move freely, forcibly married, teased in schools and

colleges, had to drop out of educational institutions, physically

attacked, verbally abused etc. A lot of these problems our brave Hijra

sisters have also faced. But because they were mistakenly seen as

boys, they were free to roam around and find other trans people.

Because their Hijra mothers made space for them, they were able to

leave their homes and live with their trans sisters and mothers. We

don’t have that. We struggle for years alone before we find another

trans man. We struggle for years before we can find a job, independent

housing, find health facilities including Sex Reassignment Surgery

[S.R.S] and overall Trans and General Healthcare. We are sure our

trans sisters will also agree that sometimes words fail to

explain how difficult it is for us to just survive in a society that is so

patriarchal and transphobic.

 

We, as trans men admire and respect the courage of our trans sisters

who have led the way for LGBTI rights in India. We are learning to

organise ourselves from them and are in the process of doing that.

 

Just like there are hijras, kinnars, mangalamukhis, aravanis, kothis,

jogappas, shiv shaktis among trans women as identities, there is a

wide range of trans masculine expressions. Some of us have had

surgery, some of us haven’t, some of us are more masculine, others

are more fluid in their gender expression. We have many names to

identify ourselves like bhaiya, thirunambi, gandabasaka, babu, ftm,

trans man etc.

For an umbrella term, to refer to us in all our diversity, we would like

the use of the term, trans masculine. We do not identify with PAGFB

[Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth] which is what is being

used in reports and meetings here to describe our identities. We

strongly urge you to refer to us by identities that we assume, not ones

that are imposed on us without due democratic discussions and

consent.

 

We would like to be included in the consultations to formulate

progressive policies for trans people and for trans men and people

identified as intersex to be given an opportunity to put forward our

demands.

 

Since the issues and identities involve such a broad range, we would

like to make a direct submission in front of the committee and put

forward our recommendations. We urge the MSJE to give us some

more time to do larger consultations with the trans masculine

community members and come up with recommendations that would

truly reflect the needs of the community.


 

Sincerely,

 

 

Signed by 74 trans masculine identified people across India whose names are being withheld for our protection.

 

 

 

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