The 101 Transgender project photographs 5 transgenders in the careers of their choice.
In April 2014, The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment, recognised the transgender community as belonging to the third sex – a third gender apart from male and female.
What did it mean? That transgenders, or transsexuals, or the eunuchs, could now identify themselves as that of the third sex in all official documents. The issue, as the Supreme Court put it, “is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue.”
It is upsetting to know that it takes the highest judicial body in the country to officially 'grant acceptance' to Indian citizens who simply do not identify with their physical genders. And despite this, a broader acceptance by society still eludes them.
The community remains marginalised, left with no other option but begging, and sex-work as a means of livelihood. Their integration into our ordinary, everyday lives is just a dream.
Still, what are their dreams? We aimed to find out.
101 India presents The 101 Transgender Project, our first 'The Brief' initiative.
The Brief to photographer Ashima Narain was simple: Ask members of the transgender community what their 'career dreams' are – what they aspire to do with their lives, if given a chance. Following that, we asked her to give these transgenders a makeover that helps them feel, for the first time in their lives, professional.
The results, we think, are quite amazing:
“I have seen air hostesses – they are very beautiful. I wondered why I couldn't present myself as one of them.”
“I would be a doctor so I can help my community in the feminization process.”
“I would choose this profession to bring about awareness in the community, and tell them that they too have rights.”
“The police actually harass our community a lot. It's why I want to be a policewoman who helps the transgender community instead.”
“I want to prove that a 'hijra' can also work responsibly and hard to improve their position.”
We have all known or met people who have chosen the careers, and the fields, stated above. It doesn't matter what gender they are. Then why does it matter what gender Harsha, Shreya, Urmi, Poonam and Somya identify with?
There's dignity in any form of labour. Let's dignify transgenders with labour to begin with.
Keep an eye out for The Brief – 101India’s ask to the creative community. A task we set to anyone within it – from sculptors, to painters, to commercial artists, to milliners – anyone with a right-brain-overload. This task can be simple, satirical, ironic or just plain fun. The Transgender Project is our first 'The Brief' initiative and we will have a new one every month.