Trinetra: A lot of queer characters are written for diversity hire| Pride Month Special - Hindustan Times

Trinetra: A lot of queer characters are written for diversity hire| Pride Month Special

ByAkash Bhatnagar
Jun 06, 2024 10:45 PM IST

Celebrating Pride Month, Trinetra talks about evolution of transgender representation in the past year, overcompensation by industry and rigid gender notions

In the last one-year, Indian media has witnessed a change in transgender representation on screen with trans actors Trinetra and Sushant Divgikr getting roles in mainstream media in Made In Heaven and Thank You For Coming respectively. Trans activist Gauri Sawant also got a biopic made on her with the web series Taali. Celebrating Pride Month, we asked Trinetra about this evolution, and she says, “It got evident to everyone that change is happening.”

Trinetra on transgender representation in Indian media
Trinetra on transgender representation in Indian media

After her and Divgikr, the 26-year-old believes that more trans actors will get a space on screen. “Having said that, I see my fellow trans actors, regardless of how successful or mainstream they are, they don’t get a lot of casting calls, especially for primary parts. And if there is, it’s unlikely to be a mainstream opportunity. The opportunity I received is not necessarily a reflection of the ones that trans actors get in the industry at large,” she says.

The doctor-turned-actor insists that growing up, while she saw people not from the LGBTQIA+ community get represented on screen across walks of life, she never got to see that for herself and the community. “Whenever we even did, it was always a contorted or distorted version. You’d never look at them and think like I can or want to be that. Not just in India, but worldwide there has been a queer coding of evilness, from The Powerpuff Girls to The Silence Of The Lambs. When you grow up seeing such representation, that takes a major toll on your self-esteem as a queer person,” she says.

Trinetra asserts that the “rigid notions” of gender and sexuality by society led her to have an identity crisis growing up. “When a person assigned a boy at the time of birth has an effeminate persona, the society automatically assumes them to be gay. For a long time, I also thought maybe I am a gay boy and maybe I will be fine with that. But that did not explain why I felt uncomfortable with my body. It took a lot of time for me to realise gender and sexuality are two different things,” she says.

Coming from the “conservative” medical field, Trinetra enjoyed the freedom to express herself that the acting industry provided. “But overcompensation does happen. A lot of queer characters are written for the sake of diversity hire. Yet, we are still a country with little opportunities for trans and queer people. Even a little representation creates more opportunities in the future. So, I am happy looking at that big picture,” she says, adding that she wants more trans representation on a set, and not just in acting. “When I would walk on my set, I would have no trans person there and that was isolating. When you can't confide in anybody, it can be scary. The set I was on was safe, but you hear horror stories of trans people getting harassed, facing violence and that’s the reality of it,” she insists.

Trinetra is thankful for all the good things that have come to her because of being a public figure, but she also acknowledges the drawbacks of it. “When I was looking for a home in Mumbai a year ago, I would introduce myself as Dr Trinetra, also an actor. So, the landlords would look me up and I did end up losing a bunch of apartments because they’d found out I was trans. I wouldn’t have to even come out to them, they’d already know. With visibilty, there comes a lack of privacy,” she shares, adding that it also percolates to her love life. “These things cannot be kept private. If I am seeing somebody, their family would find out one way or the other. But I will happily take all of the cons for all the pros that I have experienced,” she ends.

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