Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Thinking beyond Gender ‘Binary’

“Didi, who is kinnar?”
“Can a man love another man?”
“Why people become hizras?”
“Can they also marry and give birth to babies?”
Who are the 'others'?
These are some of the questions I have been bombarded with after I had conducted the session on ‘Puberty’, ‘Love, sex and relationships’, so we thought it is necessary to discuss and resolve these curiosities. Another reason to divulge into this discussion was that it is during adolescence, one starts identifying their gender and sexuality, which can be beyond being ‘boy’ and ‘girl’, though it is never easy to experience and accept that since the society we live in still emphasizes on gender binary. 

Discussing and talking about different gender and sexual identities at this point, can work in two ways- firstly if there is an adolescent who identifies as homosexual or transgender can really understand that this is as normal as being a boy or a girl and their experience of identifying their sexuality would be easier, secondly this would also build empathy towards other gender since they have been hearing many things about them from society which are not necessarily true and can develop fresh perspective about the same. Above all, I knew this discussion will be intense and intriguing.

Painting the desires

The session began with mapping out “My desires” to explore what are the various desires they have for themselves and with respect to their relationships. Through comfort and discomfort activity, the participants were invited to answer the questions for example- ‘Are you comfortable with a boy loving a girl?’, ‘Are you comfortable with girl loving a girl?’ etc in form of dots on a sheet of paper. We did mind mapping around what thoughts, feelings or questions comes to your mind when you hear the word “Hizra”. It was very intense 20 minutes for me, as I heard and wrote numerous questions and all those things people do in their ignorance to hizras like why are they like this? Why don’t they get to live with their family? How do their sex organs look like?  Why are they different from us? They do black magic; shopkeepers don’t take money from them, Does their blessings and curse works? and many more. 
Who are 'Hizras?'

I was surprised and taken aback that at such a young age they had heard and seen so much about hizras and because these assumptions are not sorted out here, they then form thick layer of conditioning, creating a barrier against knowing them and ultimately results into discriminating “Hizras”. 

Through a chart paper having pictures and written description, I explained various gender and sexual identities. I could see confused faces, surprised faces, disgusted faces, smiling faces and scared faces. I tried answering all possible questions that were coming to me, which actually left me exhausted. With every workshop comes a new learning that just motivates me further. Finally we closed the session after screening the movie “I am that” which portrays the life and struggles of transgender. 

“Before we talk about reflections, let’s talk about future. I want to do a closure event that could showcase the beautiful work that you people are doing. I am very happy with the workshop processes and the way the entire intervention has come along. The kids are engaging, they are able to understand the concepts and reflect on them. I can see and feel the power of the space as I thought one or another participant would drop out, contrary to this assumption the kids who were not participating got attracted and started engaging which left me surprised. So let’s do this”, shares Kamya Dargan, Founder, My Perch.    

I liked this synergy of work! Before we were leaving she shared her idea with the participants, “We have been part of many workshops, but these workshops are different. Isn’t it, so many of us are sharing our stories and learning new things so why not share our stories with other people? Let’s celebrate this. What say?”
A loud ‘Yes’ brought heaps of excitement and happiness in us!

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