Once in three days a transgender person is attacked or killed. There are no proper statistics for the number of suicides of transgender persons. There have been many transgender martyrs.
Akhil Akku talks of these tragedies on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20. In front of a small gathering of the LGBTIQ+ community called by Queerythm in Thiruvananthapuram, Akhil, an executive member of the association, urges the others to come out and fight for their rights on this day. “The transgender community has faced a lot of cruel treatments at the hands of the society that includes the police. There is law and there is policy, but we should still understand and fight for our rights,” Akhil says.
The day was marked in a big way last year but this time they chose to just have a small gathering, light candles in the twilight and remember the many who suffered, to at least bring this bit of visibility for the community. Nathira, the first trans person to stand for student elections in Kerala University, introduces the day.
Surya, trans rights activist, says, “There have been martyrs like Tara. There have been those who could not open up and took their lives for it, those isolated from society. Even as we have come to the mainstream these days, there are still many who are still trapped, still not free to be themselves. Let’s hope this light that we hold could shine on their lives.”
Syama S Prabha, member of the Transgender Cell of Social Justice Department, talks of the time before the community received such visibility, of the tortures they faced at the hands of the police and the indifference from family. Rachana asks everyone to remember Maria whose killing by her lover perhaps led to the formation of Queerythm. “Let’s also remember Gowri, another trans person from Aluva who had been killed,” Rachana says.
Prijith, Queerythm founder, says that there should be others also joining them, not just the community members and their allies. “Such inhuman treatment are faced by all minorities, not just the transgender community. The Dalits, Adivasis all face them. While Kerala is much friendlier to the transgender community, we get negative experiences from some places. We have a transgender policy but now we should work towards making it a transgender bill. We hope that SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – SOGI 123 is a resource to assist schools to create environments for students of all gender identities and sexual orientations) would be included as part of the education system. There should be an atrocities act against the atrocities on trans people. Another person should not attempt suicide for the reason that they are queer. On this occasion, I’d like to add that Queerythm has opened a 24-hour helpline a few days ago and we have already handled more than 2000 calls.”