Why SC's decision to recognise the third gender will change my life, writes transgender TV host and filmmaker Rose Venkatesan

Why SC's decision to recognise the third gender will change my life, writes transgender TV host and filmmaker Rose Venkatesan

Why so late, SC? I still can sigh of great relief for the numerous kids out there who are largely depressed.

Rose Venkatesan Rani
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The Supreme Court of India directed the Indian Government to include a new gender category to include people who don't identify as the traditional male or female. My head spins as I write this. A combination of being woken up suddenly from heavy sleep and a sudden jerk of pleasant shock has left my head spinning. I am humming some sweet songs in celebration! Hurray!

Going back to the travel I had last night, I was insulted by a railway station toilet watch person. I went into the 'female' toilet as I usually do and came out to meet Mr. Toilet Fee Collector, a man roughly in his fifties only by visual judgment. I reached into my purse to pull out a Rs 2 coin and placed it on the table. The man started yelling saying 'it's Rs 5'.

He became agitated and pronounced 'no, it's Rs.5 for all purposes'.

'But the board said Rs.2 for only...', I said and he actually spoke the unspeakable "I should not have allowed someone like you in that toilet and you keep arguing about how much to pay me?". He hinted that he had the power to reject right of entry to me - a transgender woman - into a female toilet. That shattered me - a celebrity, a transgender rights activist for years.

But this is not all, as this particular journey was by itself unplanned, no tickets were booked on a bus/train or flight I had to make it back home totally unreserved, so I covered my face with a hood, so people couldn't recognize me by face but, they could figure I was transgender if they heard my voice. In a small town bus I needed to take to reach the train station, a couple lied to me saying "someone else is coming to occupy this vacant seat" just to not have me sit next to the female of the couple-a nearly 50's couple form a highly rural background. The moment I found another seat, I saw right before my eyes how they let another complete stranger to them - a boy in his 20's - to sit in that same seat they denied me. Such examples of real life discrimination faced by transgender people abound and hardly get any attention in the media.

This doesn't include all the molestation and unwanted/unpleasant sexual approaches made by men (one with his own wife/daughter travelling with him, another with his wife as a co-traveler to name only two of the molesters) I had to tolerate circumstantially during the whole trip that took about 10 hours to complete. I can write a series of books with my own experiences of discrimination and abuse I face daily the moment I step out of the comfort of my own personal home.

The above story might sound melodramatic, but it's only purpose is to very slightly open the always-closed-eyes to the kind of abuse faced by us.

This Supreme Court verdict has the potential to change it all. With legal recourse, we can fight discrimination openly and challenge the oppressors and abusers aside from being able to fill educational and employment institutions in the public and private sector with trans-identified students and employees. This mainstreaming can largely reduce our subsistence on dangerous sources of income that are also socially unacceptable in the Indian context-prostitution and begging.

Little transgender kids can go to school in the uniforms meant for their self-claimed gender. Oh, I missed this opportunity to go to school and college as a girl. I really did. Why so late, Supreme Court? You make me cry for this reason. But, I still can sigh of great relief for the numerous kids out there who are otherwise largely suicidal or depressed.

This might also open up the possibility of legalizing marriage between a cis-gender and a transgender person. I can enlist all the opportunities and possibilities that this verdict has the capacity to open up for transgender people. This is just a reaction outpouring with respect to the gladdening announcement. I am going to celebrate. Mwah peeps!

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