A Growing Wave of Acceptance in the Art World for Transgenders
The representation of transgenders in the arts community is growing throughout the country. But is this enough?
For the first time in the country, both transgenders and migrant labourers will showcase their skills in a continuing education arts festival in Kerala next month. The Kerala State Literacy Mission (KSLM) has introduced separate categories for participation of the members of these marginalised sections, who are pursuing its various equivalency courses.
The 9th edition of the three-day annual event would be held from January 10, KSLM officials said. The competitions would be held in 73 events and participants would display their skills in eight categories. Besides the categories for transgenders and migrant labourers, the other categories are basic literacy, class four, seven, 10, higher secondary and prerak (instructor), they said. The district scoring the highest marks, would be presented with a golden trophy, they added.
The representation of transgenders in the arts community is growing throughout the country.
Similar to the platform in Trivandrum, here in Delhi, a new play will bring to life the story of transgender Rajkumari, fondly called Lallan Hijra, and how she worked against all odds to come up with a school for the slum children in Patna.
The production "Lallan Ms", presented by Rama Theatre Natya Vidya (RATNAV) Foundation in collaboration with Ganga Dhar Shukla Drama Festival, will be staged at the Shri Ram Centre in New Delhi on December 5.
Based on Rajkumari's real life story, the play talks about the struggles of 44-year-old Lallan and how she overcomes them to successfully open a school for the poor in a slum in Patna, only to be burnt down 15 years later by the land mafia. But, even that didn't bog down her feisty spirit, said play director Rama Pandey and added that Lallan, with the help of other eunuchs, re-built the school from scratch.
"This play is a salute to Lallan's never failing spirit which challenges and encourages us to achieve things in life. Making it was the toughest challenge of my life. "... I have woven Lallan and other transgender lives in my own life experiences. I have taken the challenge of depicting serious storytelling in an interesting drama style, for which I am also using old folk medium of 'Bhapang' (a single stringed percussion instrument)," said Pandey, who is also the narrator, writer and producer of the play.
It will be followed by Purvanchal's famous folk dance "Jhangiya" and singer Bajinath Yadav's performance of folk songs.
RATNAV, a foundation for the preservation of traditional oral arts of India, works for the livelihood of artistes and promotes their art through theatre performances.
Further evidence of the art world’s acceptance is that earlier this year, Narthaki Nataraj became the first transgender to win the Padma award.
However, voices from the community are not being heard everywhere. The controversial Transgender Persons’ (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week, despite opposition from House members and protests from civil society groups. Transgender people strongly rejected the Bill, but it was passed into law nonetheless.
Better late than never, but we can’t wait for this wave of acceptance to grow and permeate every field.