You see them everywhere – on the streets, on traffic signals, outside cafe’s and malls and everywhere you’d least expect them to be. You are scared of them, intrigued by them, disgusted maybe but mostly curious. But irrespective of how you feel, you will always avoid them. Why unnecessarily invite trouble, right?
Today, a bunch of students set up a stall in college selling lip balms in two distinct flavours- orange and peppermint. As strange as those flavours were, their makers were more so. They were not made by some big shot multinational cosmetic company but an NGO called Project Pragathi. ‘Pragathi’ in hindi and kannada directly translates to ‘progress’ and I guess the name is more than apt, because it was opened for the empowerment and upliftment of transgenders.
(Picture taken from the Project Pragati Facebook page)
All the places I’ve been to in my life, I’ve never once noticed transgenders being ostracized and unappreciated, as they are here.. I’ve seen them as nurses, doctors, shopkeepers, stylists, amusement park workers, receptionists etc and while I am unaware of the other rights they are allowed to enjoy around the world, they are at least better off than they are here. Here, I only see them on the roads.
This is frankly very sad because if nothing, they should at least be given an equal opportunity to earn. We should not let our ideologies and personal belief’s get in the way of them realizing their potential and dreams.
This NGO I mentioned earlier is an initiative of some students in my college and I’m glad to have contributed in whatever little way I could, even if it meant only buying one of their products for my personal use.
If any of you like, you can check out their Page on Facebook and if you live anywhere in near the Bangalore area, can contact them as well. The team is very prompt and they usually reply within an hour or a day.
Anyways, since we were on the topic of transgenders, I would like to share a small poem I wrote on the topic when I was in the eleventh grade. Back then, I personally believed that we were all looking at the issue through a foggy lens. We knew a problem existed and we could see it too, but we were always eluded from the complete picture. Who makes that lens dirty? Why don’t we try to clear it away? How long will these people, as translucent misunderstood stereotypes, stay?
So here is the poem. Hope you like it.
Sitting near a garbage can,
Right next to the main road,
Can’t tell whether it’s a woman or a man.
Just another body trembling in the cold.
Towards the corner it does creep,
With a mere coin in its hand.
On the ground, trying to sleep,
Until the time comes for it to stand.
The time comes when the car stops.
The signal has finally turned red.
Towards the road she begins to hop,
Begging for enough to be fed.
Every vehicle window she approaches,
She is shut out in disgust.
Socially trampled on like dirty roaches,
Swept away like the dust.
Every rider on every bike
Follows her with looks of hate,
Constantly prodded with these acts of dislike
She has come to accept her fate.
The world deems them immoral
For so unnatural is their form.
Not given a chance to exhibit any laurel
Just because they appear out of the norm.
But while society contemplates upon
Their wrong opinion of transgenders,
Many innocent lives succumb to scorn,
Forcing them to become serial offenders.
Don’t these educated people realize?
That transgenders are born this way?
Must live in this body till they die
They never chose their features, by the way.
Yet being as ‘civilized’ as we are,
We feel it is fine to openly discriminate—
Those who can’t help being how they are,
People who are helpless and desperate.
Haven’t we ever given a thought?
To how our mindless judgments
Hurt and kill a part of the population that ought
To work, progress and make true effort.
Our conservative mindsets are excuses
To shut them out of society for no reason,
Harm them with apathy, more harmful than
Treat them like criminals guilty of treason.
We watch them scurry around like rats
Begging for life’s basic needs.
Condemned and mocked like commonplace
Never from this stigma are they freed.
So able and strong they are in will,
What a powerful workforce that can create!
Yet no resumes are they allowed to fill
To get a job, they forever wait.
Wake up hypocritical India!
Are you blind to this public injustice?
That day is not very far
When we will have to pay for these acts of malice.
When will that revolutionary day arrive?
When we won’t judge one by their looks,
Value equally, every form of life,
Won’t use a cover to offend books.
They are just as capable and worthy.
They are entitled to every human right.
Employing them with us without worry
Could go a long way to end this fight.
But our morally rich society
Will continue to keep them at bay.
As they walk the roads alone,
We will watch them suffer and die everyday.
On this note, I’d look to say, that the future of this community looks brighter by the day. People like those at Project Pragati and many people across the country, including activists, administrators and politicians are no longer silent about the issue and are actively engaged in wiping away these misapprehensions. Hopefully, one day, we will see them achieving and thriving at every sphere of life they rightfully attempt to step into.