Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham hosted a workshop on gender equality and transgender rights titled “Transcending Conversations”
Amritapuri / May 12, 2023: “It’s time to mitigate the stigma attached to the people belonging to the transgender community by implementing gender-neutral laws,” said queer activists in a workshop titled “Transcending Conversations” organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, which is ranked as the 5th Best University by NIRF 2022 Rankings.
Prof. Bhavani Rao R, the India Coordinator of C20 Working Group on Gender Equality, who is also the UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said the event aimed to facilitate an open and honest dialogue about the various forms of inequality and disadvantage that exist in our society today when it comes to transgender individuals. A part of the discussion of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s national-level multi-fest, VIDYUT, was focused on the C20 theme of gender equality.
Prominent activists from the transgender community and others participated in the workshop, including Akkai Padmashali, K Prithika Yashini, Adv. Padma Lekshmi, and Dr. Sundeep Vijayaraghavan. They offered unique perspectives on the subject, based on their insights and personal experiences.
Adv. Padma Lekshmi, the first transgender woman to be enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Kerala, emphasized the need for gender-neutral laws in India. She said: “Indian law has a perception of rape only based on the belief that the victim of the rape has to be a woman, completely ignoring the fact that men and transgender people are also subjected to rape, physical assault, and harassment. The lack of gender neutrality is evident in existing laws. With rape, each victim regardless of gender faces the same amount of trauma without any discrimination. Outraging the modesty of women, stalking, and other laws are not applicable to transpeople, which is a basic fundamental law violation.”
Akkai Padmashali, an Indian transgender activist, motivational speaker, and singer, talked about the importance of occupying spaces and positions without compromising identities and sexualities. She said: “Occupying spaces and positions without compromising our identities and sexualities is crucial for true inclusion and equality. The systems of state, justice, society, patriarchy, matriarchy, or social justice cannot continue to exclude people on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Upholding constitutional morality, humanity, and social justice is essential, and we must question the power of majoritarianism and totalitarianism to judge individuals based on their identities and sexualities.”
K Prithika Yashini, the first transgender woman to be a police officer in India, said, “Being a trans woman, I have faced numerous hurdles and struggles in my journey of self-acceptance. The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize transgenders as the third gender was a significant step toward equality. However, the question remains, which is the first gender, and which is the second? We are all equal, and it is high time that we start treating trans women and trans men as human beings. I urge society to show respect and empathy towards us and understand the challenges we face. I know firsthand the pain of being bullied and harassed for my identity. But I chose to fight back and embrace who I am. It wasn’t easy, and I had to discontinue my education and run away from home to transition. The road was tough, and I faced rejection from my own community for not meeting their expectations.”
Dr. Sundeep Vijayaraghavan, a renowned expert in Gender affirmation surgery said: “Our journey in supporting the transgender community began in 2017 when a person came to Amrita Hospital requesting gender affirmation surgery. After thorough research and consulting the experts in Delhi, we performed the procedure. Today, she is a successful model and queer advocate. Since then, we have established a full-fledged transgender clinic at Amrita with a dedicated team. At a time when it was challenging for trans people to get employment, our hospital family offered eight positions. The surgery offered at our hospital is affordable by incorporating all expenses into the amount provided by the government of Kerala for transition. This reduces the financial burden of the trans community.”
The event offered unique perspectives on the topic of gender equality and transgender individuals. The recently inaugurated Gender Equality working group of Civil 20 (C20) is one of the official Engagement Groups of the G20 that focuses on access to education, healthcare, financial and environmental resources, decent work, infrastructure, and decision-making.