Posted on October 13, 2017
Freed from the binary of boy and girl, gender identity is a shifting landscape. While gender and sexuality are often used interchangeably, these are distinctively different. While gender identity refers to a person’s personal and internal identification with being male, female, both or neither. Sexuality, on the other hand, refers to a person’s attraction to others, whether this is physical, emotional or spiritual.
These two things are not always related and there are countless ways of identifying with both. It’s not easy when we talk about these issues. Cisgender. Transgender. How many genders are there? Are we created, man and woman? Or do we internalize something different? How do we answer these tough questions in tougher times?
Language is more limited than the sum of human experience and words are important for people in the throes of self-discovery, whether they feel they belong in these binaries or beyond them. In my personal opinion, the whole idea of gender is stupid. If you are a male you are expected to be ‘masculine’ and if you are a female you are expected to be ‘feminine’. If you closely inspect the qualities that you attribute to masculinity, they are brave, daring, adventurous, tough, short-tempered and dominating. And if you do the same for femininity, you will find caring, kind, soft, loving, shy, calm and reserved. If you give it a thought, these qualities can be assigned to either men or women. They are not gender specific.
Akhil a friend of mine who is gender non-conformative at the moment explains with a sheer calmness of the ordeals he has faced as a different child and adult. He speaks of how brutally he was abused throughout most of his childhood days, only because he was effeminate. I could only imagine the amount of emotional trauma the supposed ‘social construct’ had caused in someone to push them to the verge of suicide. Today Akhil is open to his family and they have extended their hearts out in support of their child. Today Akhil is liberated from the archaic chains of social norms and possesses a brave attitude towards life and the circumstances thrown at him. He is someone who stands different even within the community. He loves to drape a sāri, he also loves his beard. He is a beautiful example of diverse creation.
Among the estimated 2.5 million queer men in India, I share a special bond with Angad Gummaraju. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has been very helpful that way. He belongs to a minority within a minority within a minority. He is privileged in terms of family support and financial security. But the profession he picked is the last one to pick to be in an open space. He is a doctor in the make. As a transitioning individual Angad is a living freak show in an extremely hostile workplace. Especially when he works in rural bases with staff having very little exposure outside their own little shells. Being in the medical profession he highlights the gaping hole of zero discourse on transgender medicine. Angad still faces a lot of conservative oppression from his faculty because of his gender identity. They try to silence his struggles by refusing him in the class or not giving him any attendance at all. To me personally, Angad represents a temple of strength beyond imagination and courage beyond what mankind has ever defined. He remains the bearer of the lamp that lightens many a harsh soul.
We have for long kept people like Akhil and Angad trapped inside their bodies refusing them The rights to spread their wings. It is high time we retrospect on how many lives we have destroyed in the name of religion, culture and what not. It is time we think about the number of human sacrifices that have been made because we chose a paranoid ideology over their lives.
Credits: Alan Kuriākōse, thank you very much for your valuable support and beautiful insight throughout the article. 🙂