A representation of trans men write letter to the Ministry requesting that trans masculine people whose needs have been overlooked in the current policies and programmes be allowed to make direct submission to expert committee on transgender issues
By Team FI
A group of trans masculine identified people in India have written a letter to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJEW) requesting that the voices of trans masculine community be heard during consultations on transgender issues.
The letter indicated as to how the current policies and programmes have overlooked trans men and their needs and has asked that they be allowed to make a direct submission to MSJE expert committee that was set up last year to look at problems faced by the transgender community in India. Being a minority within even the trans community, the letter stated, such an opportunity would provide them the chance to put forward recommendations that would help to truly reflect the needs of their community.
Here is the full text of the letter:
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 trans-phobic.
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.
Signed by 74 trans masculine identified people across India whose names are being withheld for our protection.