January 2016

First Transwoman, Suman gets admission in St Joseph’s Evening College

Gritty Suman makes it to journalism class

Transgender sets out on her quest for a degree at St. Joseph’s Evening College

Getting admission in a college may not be an “achievement” for many, but for 28-year-old Suman, her entry into St. Joseph’s Evening College is not just a milestone for her, but for her entire community.

Ms. Suman, a transgender, had enrolled for the BBM course 11 years ago, but had dropped out unable to bear the ragging and humiliation. She decided to give it another try this year, and joined B.A. Journalism.

“Only education can transform the life of transgender people. It will give us the courage to face challenges and help us integrate into the mainstream,” said Ms. Suman.

She acknowledges the help she received from Ondede, an organisation working for the rights of children, women and sexuality minorities.

As for her classmates, she says they have been “cordial” to her. “Though I was slightly apprehensive in the beginning about the way I would be treated by my classmates, now I have decided to complete the course by facing up to the challenges that crop up. Now my fear has gone. I have decided to concentrate on my studies rather than give importance to other things,” she said.

Meanwhile, Father Maxim Dias, Principal of St. Joseph’s Evening College, told The Hindu that the college had not admitted a transgender before. He was confident that other students would be accommodative. “I do not think there will be any problem for the transgender student,” he said.

Bangalore University, which has reserved a seat for transgender people in each of its postgraduate courses, has failed to find a single taker. The main reason for this is that there aren’t many graduates among transgender people.


Let the Transgender community enter into colleges !

College students will get to watch Naanu Avanalla…Avalu

A still from the movie.

A still from the movie.

Apart from attending classes on history, physics and maths, students in degree colleges in the State may have an unlikely addition to their routine — watching a film. The Department of Collegiate Education (DCE) has sent out a circular to all government, aided and unaided degree colleges to arrange for the screening of Naanu Avanalla…Avalu , which is doing the rounds of film festivals and was honoured with a national award. The circular asks colleges to see the relevance of the film to the students and teachers and allow it to be screened without any financial implication for the government. DCE officials said the choice about whether to watch the film will be left to students. The proposal was pitched by the makers of the film. B.S. Lingadevaru, director of the film, approached the DCE with the proposal for the simple reason that a film such as theirs would need an alternative platform. “Persisting with conventional theatres is difficult for our kind of films. Also, the perception of cinema is often limited to entertainment; it is not considered an art. Now, all big colleges have auditoriums and infrastructure for holding such screenings,” he said. However, not everyone is optimistic about changing the perception of students by making them watch a film. Activist Akkai Padmashali said many educational campuses continued to be ‘homo and transphobic’. She, instead, advocates asking members of the transgender community to deliver talks on campuses.

Umesh alias Uma, a radio jockey with Radioactive, was also of the view that screening a film may not be the most effective medium to convey the struggles of the community. “Having members of the community, who are spread across the State, come into campuses and talk directly to students will have a better impact. It is important that students be sensitised at this stage as some of them may go on to become lawyers and police personnel,” she said.

“EUNUCH” terminology is repealed by the Government of Karnataka ! 36A police act which criminalised Transgender community



http://36aBy Niranjan Kaggere, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jan 13, 2016, 04.00 AM IST

BM report of 2012 wins major battle for transgenders
HC gives state government six months to erase reference to ‘eunuchs’ in the draconian Police Act
Allowing thousands of transgenders to live with dignity in society, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered omission of the category of ‘eunuchs’ from the Karnataka Police Act, 1963. Hearing the writ petition filed by the Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum and others, the HC directed the state government to amend the Act within six months.
The High Court’s decision has come as a big relief to the transgender community which has been battling the state government for over four years. “It is a day of victory,” said Akkai Padmashali, founder of Ondede, a forum of transgenders, soon after the hearing.
HC advocate Jayna Kothari, who pleaded on behalf of the applicants, said, “We had challenged Section 36 (A) of the Police Act. The court has granted six months to the government to amend the law.” In June 2012 the Karnataka Legislature passed a controversial Bill amending the Karnataka Police Act and allowing the police to regulate activities of and maintain a black book on transgenders.
Bangalore Mirror was the first to report provisions of the article as soon as it was cleared by then governor HR Bhardwaj and published in the State’s official gazette. BM’s article ‘Guv nod for cops to maintain black book on transgenders’ published on July 15, 2012 came as rude jolt to the community. The Act was amended based on the recommendations of a one-man committee headed by former Law Secretary KR Chamayya. The Act allowed cops to maintain a separate register containing the names and addresses of transgenders who are “reasonably suspected of kidnapping or emasculating boys or of committing unnatural offences”. The Act also empowered police to prohibit registered ‘eunuchs’ from carrying out any activities stated in the order.
“The BM article was an eye-opener as it explained the provisions of the Act in detail and how it would become difficult for transgenders to live in Karnataka. Many of the provisions were derived from the repealed the archaic Hyderabad Eunuchs Act. Following the report, the community united to fight it out. Tuesday’s verdict is the first success and we will not rest till the government repeals the entire section 36 (A),” said Akkai.
Recounting their long battle, Akkai said, “After the report in July, the community had a huge rally at Town Hall in August and appealed to people in power and in the judiciary to bail out the community from the clutches of the stringent law. Subsequently, several sessions were held with the Legal Services Authority of the State and Centre on the issue of ‘Transgender and Law’. Despite making promises, no one really helped.”
The community appealed to then minister Shobha Karandlaje with a copy of the BM article. “In fact, it was she who convinced the government about our plight. But, by then, the government was completing its tenure,” Akkai said. They then approached Sonia Gandhi, who was the UPA chairperson and urged her to bring in suitable legislation honouring the rights of sexual minorities.
Finally, the Supreme Court order recognising transgenders as the third gender was a force multiplier and the community filed a writ before the Karnataka High Court seeking repeal of various sections of the Karnataka Police Act.
“Even as the matter was pending before the court, the Congress-led state government showed positive signs. It began recognising transgenders who excelled in various fields. It was only when I was conferred Rajyotsava Award – the highest civilian award in the State – that R Uma of Jeeva and I filed yet another petition, along with the BM article and other reports as annexures, before the HC, seeking justice,” Akkai explained.
The petitioners recently met Law and Parliamentary affairs minister TB Jayachandra and explained their plight. They also plan to meet Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara next week to seek repeal of the entire section 36 A of the Police Act, Akkai said.
‘I was taunted for writing on eunuchs’
The day is clearly etched in my memory. There was pandemonium in the legislative assembly over the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act (1964). All the media focus was on the emotive anti-cow bill so much so that another controversial bill amending the Karnataka Police Act whereby the police could regulate activities of transgenders got ignored.
Sitting in the press room of Vidhana Soudha in a rainy afternoon of June 2012 it was just another day in the secretariat awaiting the beginning of ‘daily rounds’. Like other reporters, I began browsing through the pile of newspapers. It was then that a bundle of government gazette dated June 16, 2012 in the corner of the room caught my attention.
I picked up a copy of the gazette from the bundle and began going through the various notifications. One sheet titled ‘Karnataka Repealing and Amending (Regional Laws) Act 2009, approved by the governor caught my attention. A reference “Power to regulate transgenders” evoked further interest in me. As I read more, it made me recoil in disgust; it portrayed transgenders as “child kidnappers with an intention of emasculating them or forcing them to commit any unnatural offences”. The amendment also allowed police to maintain a separate register with names of such transgenders.
As I went about speaking to the already-marginalised community members, I began to understand that the act would only make their life tougher especially in a city like Bengaluru.
After the report was published on page 1 (in the then tabloid avatar) of July 15, 2012, I was subjected to odd comments when I went back to my beat. Many people teased me if Bangalore Mirror had no “better” subject than to focus on transgenders in detail and publish it on the front page! Almost a week since publication, the transgender community took note of the story and sought a copy of the Gazette which I handed over to them. Subsequently they launched their battle against the amendment.
It is any reporter’s delight when a story leads to the fruition like in this case where reference to ‘eunuchs’ has been asked by High Court to be erased from the Act. It is still Page 1 lead and I am awaiting another round of taunts today.

Ondede organised public meeting on State Intolerance Against Our Lives 5th January 2016 2-5 pm St. Joseph’s College Xavier Hall Shanthi Nagar

Rakshita transwoman and Ondede volunteer, Hidayath, RJ, Radio Active
Introduced program speakers

1st transperson in Karnataka Priya beautician
Amrita Chanda, Activist, Technologist
Kumari (Kumar.B), Activist, Founder Member, Payana
Vidya Dinker, Activist, Co-founder Ondede & Mangaluru Citizens Action Forum
Dr. Shailaja Hiremath, Professor, Women’s Studies, Kannada University, Hampi, Co-founder, Ondede
Dr. B. U. Suma, Associate Professor, Government First College
Arvind Narrain, Founder Alternative Law Forum, Member PUCL
Shakun D, Women’s Rights Activist, Advisory committee member, Ondede

Akkai, Co-Founder of Ondede set the tone for public meeting

Shakun, moderator for the program set the context

What do we see in our lives as intolerance – food, clothes, language, work, ideologies
India is a richly pluralistic society But we are losing it Yesterday someone emailed me that ‘prostitutes’ are causing problems on the road and soliciting and must be sent away. I invite the community to speak first as they experience homophobia and intolerance

Kumari is my identity. I was born as a man. There is a Kannada song
Many tgs live close to each other in Dasarahalli. But police gave a notice to home owners not to rent to them. That is a constitutional violation. An ACP and his team sent tgs and sex workers to beggars colony in 2015 and 2014. That is human rights violation and intolerance. The way sec 377 Delhi HC judgement was overturned by SC in 2013 shows homophobia. Shashi Tharoor’s private member bill was not even discussed in Parliament mainly because of opposition by NDA MP’s and neutral ones.

Priya When we requested govt. to give us support for livelihood options given were tailoring, beautician, computer operator. I chose beautician by home service. Police including women personnel insulted me in public saying that I was out for sex work. I told them to understand various sexual orientation and gender identities and not harass us. They must penalize people who perpetrate sexual harassment, abuse, violence. We are humans like everyone else

Amrita part of LGBTIQAP+ since 2010. Identify as lesbian. Family is intimately involved in intolerance and uses the state. I have met remarkable LBT women. There are many who have run away to Bangalore and are trying to make a life for themselves with the help of organizations and support groups. I have been privileged to know their stories. Women should be taught that they have sexual agency and their safety is important. I recently watched a skit by Sappho community workers who talked about same sex relationships for women also with Jeevika which workers on women’s rights. Women there broke down and shared about being forced into marriage and said about how they wished they knew about this earlier. One of them also talked about how she was fond of a girl and like to hold her close.

Prof. Dominic it is historic that we have converged here under the banner of Ondede. We are sharing about our identity struggles. More than 10 years ago, it was the first time that issues of transpersons was discussed at a meeting of sociologists. Many people said it was abnormal, I challenged if a heterosexual man could prove his sexuality. Since then we have come a long way. Some years back, a transperson was invited to speak about on an AIR program for the first time which is noteworthy. Women from Sadhana Mahila Gumpu spoke in public for the first time at the release of a book on alternate sexualities by Arvind of ALF. I want to mention 2 books which were translated into Kannada – Naanu Avanu Illa Avalu by Living Smile Vidya, a Dalit transwoman in Chennai. Also, the first Autobiography of a Sex Worker by Nalini Jameela from Kerala. That highlighted the need for dignity for a person who earned a living from sex work. Various terms like mangalamukhi, napunsaka linga have been used for transpersons which have been sometimes rejected because of the varied gender identities and sexual orientation that are present. In Netherlands, there is an organization that assists people in understanding their gender identity and sexuality.

When visibility of minorities increases, violence against them becomes invisible. I have seen this with sex workers in Bangalore when they began to organize themselves. This is also a kind of intolerance. Quoted from Michel Foucault. State establishes its power by defining acceptable norms of identity et al. Anyone who does not adhere to that is considered non-conforming. It has put such people in mental illness treatment institutions. What happened in Dadri is not just an attack on religious minorities especially when it was not even definite that it was beef but also on other minorities. Tolerating sexual assault on children is unacceptable but trying to control the sexuality or self-expression of young women and gender minorities is intolerance. Attacking any kind of minorities is intolerance and forces the dangerous reality that even trying to protest or resist intolerance is not acceptable.

State trying to subvert and homogenize cultures is a an important point to remember and also emphasizes the need to keep space open for dissent.

Prof. Shailaja, a disciple of late Prof. Kalburgi became emotional while recalling his work and beliefs. She opined that he was probably a modern Basvanna. Like Ambedkar he said that there is nothing called Hindu Dharma (religion). Basavanna said that Lingayats are not Hindus. There have been more radical writers and thinkers than Prof. Kalburgi. We have to understand their message than perhaps just the specifics of questioning if Lingayats are Hindus. Unfortunately, they have become very staunch proponents of Hindutva. Just considering that rationalists are atheists is insufficient.

Vidya: I come from Mangalore but let me start with a story from Mysore. Exactly on 4th December 2015, a couple in a car who met with an accident were pulled out. The man was beaten up and the lady was kidnapped. This was because Haleema whose father is a major real estate developer who opposed her marriage to a Hindu man organized this. Her husband complained to the police but is unable to do anything to get her back. CitiCentre Mall security service contract is with Sharan Pumpwell who is the chief of the Bajrang Dal in the district. Similarly, the Popular Front of India has Muslim fundamentalists who keep policing and questioning any interactions between young people who are different communities. A handful of Bajrang Dal people stopped the screening of Dilwale for 12 days. The police personnel did nothing. Theatre owners did not dare question them. When we went to the Mangalore Police Commissioner, he said that the film was withdrawn to respect public sentiment. After an FIR was filed, on Veera Kesari FB page, there were threats to my life and derogatory posts. Although they have been removed after 24 goons were named and the leader was arrested, we have screenshots of the page. I do not move out alone as I know there are Bajrang Dal goons (as I call them although they prefer activists) who are watching where I go or whom I talk with.

Arvind: The intolerance of the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP and the entire family of intolerant groups have gone to the extent of saying that sexual minorities are so miniscule and do not matter. Attacking young people who take photographs together or those who fall in love with across religious identities. The idea of love is revolutionary as it is based on sentiment and emotion. Do not fear and love across the boundaries of caste, sexuality, gender, religion. Support the right to love without It is a deep constitutional philosophy. Ambedkar introduced fraternity alongwith equality and liberty. Only when blood mixes with blood will caste be annihilated. When you stand up to goons they back down. Only when a person spoke up, the film was begin to be screened. We can all do something and must do so. This fascism is like Nazi Germany.

Vidya Dinker appealed to everyone to write to Kar police chief and also Mysore and Mangalore chiefs to reunite Haleema and Shivaraj who dared to love across religion

Shaheen said that issues are in the systemic structures. India has dark sides which we must oppose.

Mallu asked what can be done further by us to resist communal intolerance.

Vidya development is just a dream. Modi will use the idea of intolerance. Most of the press is saffron in my city. Largely mediapersons from outside called me. We have to find our way to respond individually and collectively after strategizing.

Vijaya make love and live love. I am Hindu and have been married to a Muslim for 17 years. We have 3 beautiful babies. Akkai has done her bit and shown us the way. Let us too.

Lakshmi Gen Sec Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane. The politics behind fundamentalism must be highlighted. We must fearlessly oppose.

Aasha we must name the people and groups like BJP and RSS who are also defining the image of a good Hindu woman. In Agra there were riots after Sadhvi Rithambara’s poisonous speech following the Babri Masjid demolition. In Delhi when we were doing a candlelight vigil and distributing pamphlets for communal harmony, a scooterist asked me why I was backing Muslims. I said it was a matter of humanity. We in the women’s movement have been doing what we can for 35 years. We urge the youth to resist intolerance fearlessly and we will follow you all.

21-year old from Mangalore said that her father was warned after she talked about openly about communal policing and the attack on her friends who were celebrating a birthday (Mangalore home stay incident). Now I am in Bangalore and my loved ones keep requesting me to keep away from politics. Mangalore is a nice place. Please visit it.

Syeda Farha Fatima please respect transwomen. We cannot sit in a man’s or woman’s seat and need a facility to sit and travel. Shakun said don’t wait for someone. Join the BBPV and ask for your rights.

Ranjitha briefly recalled how she tolerated stripping by 18 policemen for doing sex work.

Vatsala a youngster wrote a short Kannada poem called Naanu Yaaru dedicated to transpersons.

Before giving vote of thanks, Akkai reiterated the need for us to regularly raise our voices in support of all minorities. It is not enough if we do it on Women’s day or once in 6 months. Many feminists and women’s rights activists have opposed gender minorities. I fear about the adverse impact it will have on the youth of this country.

Report prepared by Pushpa Achanta, Writer and Women’s Rights Activist !

End of the report

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