The atmosphere was thick with anticipation as 132 trans persons turned up from various districts of the state to participate.

With lots of cheer and jubilation Kerala has its first sports meet for transgender personsPhotos by Sreekesh Nair
news Sports Friday, April 28, 2017 - 16:07

The Central Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram was buzzing with activity on Friday morning. There was excitement in the air as people participating in a sports meet there warmed up and prepared to compete.

But this wasn’t just any sports meet, it was specially organised for transgender persons as a collaboration between Sexual and Gender Minority Federation (SGMF) and the Kerala government.

The atmosphere was thick with anticipation as 132 trans persons turned up from various districts of the state to participate in the four events which were held: 100m, 200m and 400m sprints, 100x4m relay, long jump and shot putt.

"Apart from the participants, 200 people were also present at the stadium to egg on the athletes. And like any other sporting event, the audience played an active part in applauding and cheering." 

Photos by Sreekesh Nair

Sreekutty, President of the SGMF and a trans woman, told TNM that they did not have enough time to organise the meet with age-wise sub-categories this time around. “But from next year, we will have junior, sub-junior and senior categories for participants,” she said.

Noting the state government’s support to the sports meet, Sreekutty added that this was a proud moment for Kerala’s transgender community. Back in 2016 when the LDF came to power, SGMF had submitted a memorandum with suggestions to promote the well-being of the transgender community in the state. The sports meet was one of the suggestions made.

Sreekutty

“We are proud that SGMF was one of the reasons this event happened,” Sreekutty said, with a smile. For many transgender persons who participated, it wasn’t victory or loss that mattered.

For Sakheena, a trans woman from Beemapalli, participating in the 100m race was exhilarating enough in itself. “I’m extremely happy that I could participate, I don’t care about the prizes,” said the 32-year-old. Sakheena works with an NGO and also performs mimicry and stage shows.

Sakheena

For other athletes, it was the feeling of being accepted which was most overwhelming. Poornima, who finished fifth in the 100m race, found herself short of words when asked how participating in the event felt. “It’s difficult to express my happiness in words. In fact, I want to train better and participate next year too. The best part was that everyone encouraged and supported us. No one said anything bad or abusive,” she said.

Sreekutty and Poornima both observed that while the audience had transgender persons, others were present too. They said that this was an important step in integrating the transgender community into the mainstream society.

Photo by Sreekesh Nair

Akhil and Gopal, two Masters students of social work were also among the audience. Gokul said that they came to see the turnout and participation in the event. “We’re really happy seeing the interest and participation here,” he said. Akhil applauded the initiative and said that the sports meet was a great idea.

D Mohanan, District President of the Sports Council, Thiruvananthapuram, was also present in the stadium. “This could be the first sports meet for trans persons in India. This year, we wanted to see how many people were interested and the response has been good. Next year, we will dedicate more time to it and organise it better,” he told TNM.

The sporting events were followed by a prize distribution ceremony where winners were given trophies. The winning team of athletes was from Mallapuram, who were jubilant at their victory and cheering for the whole team.

Prize winners

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