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Issues of transgender people
Issues of transgender people have not seen the light of day in a lot of organisations working with marginalised communities. Transgender people viz., Transvestites, Transsexuals, Hijras (in India), Cross Dressers and others have often faced severe harassment and agonizing discrimination at the hands of an ignorant public. Very little is being done to understand the pressures that they have to go through.

SWABHAVA organised a small interactive session on Transgender issues. The special guests at this particular interactive session included Ms. Eva Fels, a transsexual member of the Austrian Transgender group Trans-X.

Ms. Fels gave a short talk on the origins of the Transgender Identity in the Western world and provided moving examples from the North American Native Indian communities where transgenderism was widely accepted. She also gave a description about the various stages that a person must go through to transform himself/herself into the opposite gender. She gave a sketch of the situation in her own country where the Trans-X group has over a 100 members.

Post this; Ms. Fels answered several questions from the 25 audience members. Ms. Sridevi, a hijra from Bangalore was also present and was our other special guest. She did not make any presentation but answered questions that were put to her by those present. She said that she wished that youngsters would not take the path she has taken as it is a very painful one. After this interaction, a small documentary, made by Ms. Deepa Krishnan, was shown. Called "The Paper Flowers", this 25-minute documentary was about a small community of hijras and their lives in Mumbai. The documentary moves through their lives, displaying both their admirable talents and their courageous existence despite obstacles. Some of their stories were saddening. Others told stories that brought the house down in laughter. Their sense of humour in the face of constant abuse is touching. Needless to say, everyone appreciated the documentary. Ms. Krishnan, who was also present, spoke about her purpose of making this documentary. She was grateful for the opportunity that they provided to let her into their lives.

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