It was a day of breaking stereotypes and about bringing a sexual minority into the mainstream as 24 transgenders took part in the city’s first transgender fashion show at Panjab University (PU) on Friday.
And it was an eclectic mix of participants. They comprised a 55-year-old who runs a beauty parlour at Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur and an 18-year-old pursuing graduation at the city’s co-education college among others.
Those who walked the ramp were drawn from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi besides Chandigarh. Moreover, it was not all about fashion. They also shared their stories about the difficulties they faced convincing their families and friends to accept them as they are. Ten transgenders from Punjab performed gidda.
Discrimination runs deeper
Bunty (55), who was the show-stopper, recalled that how her family members used to hide her when some visitor would drop at their house or their neighbours suggesting her parents to throw out or get her treated.
She said, “We were three siblings. The two others never accepted my behaviour. I always wanted to be a girl but nobody was ready to accept that. People still come to me and ask how I feel,” said Bunty.
Vishal Kainth, a first year student at the University Institute of Fashion Technology (UIFT), Panjab University, said, “I was four when I realised that something was special in me and I had all feminine traits.”
Vishal said, “I faced a lot of problems when choosing my stream after Class 10. I wanted to choose fashion designing but my parents believed that there will be more girls in the field and did not allow me to opt for that and sent me for a personality development course. A teacher sexually harassed me and I had to leave. It was the worst phase of my life. It was then when I had decided to go for fashion designing. There is a Femina beauty contest coming up for transgenders in Thailand and my aim is to win that contest for India. My family is still not supportive of what I want to do.”
Divyanshu Arya (18), a first-year student at Postgraduate Government College Sector 11, said the only thing she finds difficult is to change the mindset of people around who only know how to make fun of their community. Mahi Verma from Saharanpur, who also runs a beauty parlour, said she was once asked to be a sex worker and was even sexually harassed during her graduation days.
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University’s first transgender student also takes part
Dhanajay Chauhan, the first transgender student at PU, was also one of the participants. She said, “We are also humans and we expect the same treatment as others do. I appreciate that PU is working on providing special toilets for transgenders on the campus.”