When Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a well known LGBT activist and transwoman in Hyderabad, paid a visit to a popular mall along with a few of her friends to catch a film on Sunday afternoon, they were in for a rude shock. Not only were they spoken to without civility, but were also barred from entering the mall until they fought against it, she says.
"We were standing near the ticket counter, when a man who was staring at us shouted ‘Kaun ho tum log? Yahan kya kar rahe ho?’ (Who are you people? What are you doing here?)," says Vyjayanti.
Vyjayanti was with Shyam Konnur, another LGBT activist and Madhumati, her other transgender friend as various members from LGBT collectives in the city had decided to watch a movie together. Vyjayanti and her friends had arrived first.
"Since he was a little far off, we thought he was talking to someone else, and we ignored him. However, he came closer and then started shouting at us again saying that 'our kind of people' were not welcome there," she adds.
The man then went on to flash a security badge at them, and continued to hurl abuses at them in front of around 50-60 people.
"This confrontation went on for around 20 minutes at least with him continuously repeating that sentence. Recollecting past experiences, I switched to English from Hindi. He immediately changed his tone and realized that he had made a blunder," Vyjayanti adds.
The security guard then profusely apologized for his behaviour, but Vyjayanti has given a written complaint. The News Minute has not yet received a response from the GVK Mall in Hyderabad, despite repeated attempts.
(The group also put up a Facebook post after the incident)
A larger problem
This isn't the first time Vyjayanti has faced such a problem, and it is not just about her, she says.
"Every public place we go to,whether a mall or a hotel, the security automatically tries to shoo us away. Only when I start speaking in English, do they even let us in. However, I have been fortunate to be an educated individual working with a corporate. What about the rest of us?" she asks.
She then goes on to narrate an incident where she was even manhandled by the security at a famous 5-star hotel in Chennai, even though she was staying at the hotel and had already checked in.
"Both the mall and hotel brands are global ones that make tall claims about being professional in their approach. Even tech giants say they are inclusive, but there are hardly any trangender people working there," Vyjayanti adds.
Gay men or lesbian women don’t look physically different, but a transgender's body is a giveaway, immediately triggering off social stigma against them, she feels.
"There's a sense of stigma everywhere. Even at airports, neither men nor woman are willing to frisk us. We need to be a more inclusive society and we must change. All my transgender people friends are afraid to go out and do normal things, because they are harassed," she adds.
The activists now plan to demand for a public apology from the management of the mall.
"Since the humiliation was public, we want the apology also to be public. We also demand that GVK comes clean with its HR policies and practices and come up to speed with the NALSA vs. Union of India judgement of the Supreme Court of India." Vyjayanti adds.